Student Stories

The Student Lending Art Collection includes more than 650 framed original works of art, primarily prints and photographs by leading contemporary artists, which are made available to students each September to live with for the school year.

Students participating in the Student Lending Art Program proudly hang artwork borrowed from the collection in their private rooms and communal spaces. Hear from students about how the artwork impacted them and their living space. 

Interested in sharing your story about living with work from the collection? 

mitlistarts [at] mit.edu (Contact Us )

2021–2022 Student Stories

Caroline Jaffe

Caroline is a third-year Ph.D. candidate and research assistant in the Responsive Environments group.  Her research is focused on finding creative and thoughtful ways to apply technology to issues of sustainability and human behavior. She is currently developing sensor technologies to support sustainable agriculture and food systems. 

Jack Pierson
Pat's Place, 2004

Purchased with funds from the Artist's Resource Trust, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and the Student Center Preview Program

What drew you to this artwork?

Part of why I wanted to do this interview in my last year [at MIT], is because I've done the SLAP program, probably four or five times, and I always had my eye on this piece. It was very special to be able to get it in my last year. 

I loved the sunflowers and light. The feeling of this really quiet, peaceful domestic scene has always been something I've strived for in my own life. During the pandemic, taking peace and pride in my home life was a big focus for me. Also, I spend so much time in this room, writing my thesis here, a few months ago I caught COVID and quarantined in here… so having this cheerful, but peaceful piece of art has been special.

How did you decide where to place the artwork? It’s certainly in conversation with these two artworks on the right. 

I had these two larger pieces of art and wanted to put them together and there are some tonal similarities between them. Obviously, between the birds and this one, they’re both more natural scenes. I also think some of the colors speak to each other.

These [on the right] are both done by a good friend of mine from MIT who has moved across the country, but was in my lab group my first two years and is a special person to me. So it is a nice thing to have.

Has this piece sparked any conversation with friends and visitors?

Not a ton. I definitely have told some people about the program, but I haven't had a lot of people in this room. 

What would you say to other students interested in participating in SLAP?

SLAP was convenient for me because I was in the Media Lab and could pop down to the List Center. I feel like my approach is probably a little different as a grad student. When I was an undergrad, I didn't think as much about curating my space or making it homey, but especially in the pandemic, when I've spent hours and hours here, being really intentional about the way things are set up became important to me.

I'm sure a lot of people say this, but as a student, it's really cool to have a real, nicely framed piece of artwork in your house. I know some of my friends in the Media Lab have gotten edgy, more conversation pieces. I thought that would be cool, but I wanted something just a little simpler.

Kevin Paeth

Kevin is a graduate student at the Technology and Policy Program (TPP) at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.

Jean-Pierre Hébert
Twenty-Four Views of a Megaton #23, 1999


Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment

What drew you to this artwork?

The thing that drew me to this one was that it's not very in your face. I really like the geometric pattern and the color scheme. I like it from a mathematical perspective… I know the artist was pretty big in mathematical and geometric inspired art. At the time, I didn't have any other artwork in my apartment, so it allowed me to think about how I could start that room. For me, it was subtle without being boring.

Has your perception of this piece changed since when you first picked it off the wall during the SLAP exhibition?

I actually began to appreciate it more when I got the email that I have to return it. I sit here and have my morning coffee, and it's always there and I quite like it. I was actually thinking about trying to get a print of it or something similar.

How did you choose where to put this artwork? 

I wanted it in a space where I get light in the room. I wanted this to be something that I saw every day. I'm slow when it comes to decorating my space, so it takes me forever to put something up on the wall and actually commit to it. 

Has this artwork sparked any conversation with people coming into your living space?

Yeah, some people really enjoyed it. There's a geekier subset of people that are like, wow, it's inspired in this way… I like to point out to people that every side of each polygon is actually the same length and it's just a really simple idea.

For others, it's just another piece in the room. Two friends of mine in particular really enjoy it, but I think they were similarly interested in the kinds of subject matter I am.

What's been your favorite part about having this in your space?

I honestly just like looking at it. Like I said, it takes me a while to put things up in my space that I want to be there. So I have to really want it to be there or connect with it, for it to be there. 

What would you say to other students interested in participating in SLAP?

I've already recommended it to a bunch of people, to check it out. When I won the lottery, I think they were all kind of envious that I had the choice. 

Giuliana P. Cabrera Sanchez

Giuliana is an undergraduate student at MIT studying Computer Science and Engineering. She is interested in developing technology for social good. Specifically, she would like to explore the intersection of engineering, computer science, and public policy with climate, education, and social justice. 

Sun Yanchu
Pine Study after Qing Masters, 2017

Gift of James and Audrey Foster

How did you learn about the Student Lending Art Program? What made you want to participate?

I got an email from the dorm spam and it said that the List Center was giving away different artworks if you got picked from the lottery and I like art so I said why not? I entered with a couple of my friends but I was the only one that actually got it so it was kind of unexpected.

What drew you to this artwork?

There were quite a few still available when I went to pick. There were a couple of others that had a bit more color and, at first, I was looking for something more colorful,  but I thought this was a really nice piece of artwork and it’s an older style of chinese painting. I thought it looked like a tree and I really like trees. It felt very nice and calm and I like the brush style so that’s why I picked it.

How’d you decide where to place the artwork in your dorm?

I wanted it to be somewhere I could see it. I had already filled up my walls so that was kind of the only open space, but it’s also on display.

What conversations has this artwork sparked?

I do point it out to people. My friends all agree that it was a good choice and it does fit in with the room. They’ve said it seems like something that I would pick out, so it goes with a lot of things that I like. People ask about it a lot, how I got it, why I borrowed it… so I explain to people that it was through the lottery and that MIT has a Visual Arts Center. When I first got it, I went to the List to get it with a couple of friends that didn’t know about the building. It’s cool for people to find out that MIT has more arts centered initiatives. 

How do you feel this artwork has affected your living space?

I feel like I’m a bit attached to it because I’ve had it in my space all year. It’s always nice to look at. My walls have a lot of photos but not a lot of artworks and I’m not an artist so I can’t put anything up. So I am sad to give it back.

Are you interested in participating in SLAP in future years at MIT? Would you recommend SLAP to your friends?

I do want to participate every year, it’s just whether I get picked out of the lottery. I would tell my friends to do it, especially if they like to decorate their walls. I think it’s cool to have a piece of art on display and take care of it.

Did this piece change your appreciation or thoughts around the visual arts in general?

I think going into this program I didn’t think twice about art at MIT or art in general because it’s more of a STEM focused school. After participating in the program, I got signed up for the mailing list for the Arts Center. The emails they send have brought a lot of initiatives to my attention. People at MIT do care about art and different social sciences. In a way, this artwork has brought different issues and events around campus to my attention that I probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise. It’s been a cool butterfly effect. 

David Preiss

Davis is a masters student at the Center for Bit and Atoms at MIT. Before returning to school, he worked for five years as a mechanical engineer at Formlabs and ShopBot Tools. David enjoys working on problems related to digital fabrication and exploring new ways of creating. 

Bill Thompson
GYRO, 2009

Purchased with funds from MIT Friends of Boston Art

How did you decide where you wanted to hang this piece? 

We decided on it pretty spur of the moment. In the summer, we have more plants on the opposite wall so it was nice to have green to balance out the colors in the plants.

What drew you to this artwork?

I like that it’s geometric. I do a lot of digital fabrication stuff so I was also thinking, ‘oh well I really like this, maybe I could try and recreate it.’

You’ve been living with the artwork for nearly nine months now, did you notice anything new about the piece after spending more time with it? 

As I looked at it more, I noticed the depth and the subtle texture. 

Has this artwork sparked any conversations, or do people take note of it?

I don’t think anyone has explicitly said anything, but all my roommates thought it was really cool when they first saw it.

Did you have a favorite part about borrowing this piece of artwork?

My favorite part was transporting it, I felt like some kind of secret service person. That was really cool.

Do you think it affected the space it was in at all?

Having art on the walls especially when it is really vibrant definitely did change the space

Do you have any other comments you’d like to make?  

It’s such a great program and I’m super grateful I got to participate. 

2021 Student Stories

Anonymous Student

Zeke Berman
Untitled, 1988
Gelatin silver print
Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program
CNS.1990.009

Chalkboard with triangular shapes, an infinity symbol and lines with a shelf below that has a glass pitcher.

What drew you to this particular piece?

I like the tryptic composition as well as the fact that it was clearly made out of several physical elements. I also enjoyed the balance of figurativeness and abstractness in this picture.

How did you choose where to display the piece?

I wanted to see it when I entered my bedroom, and that was the only available wall.

Due to COVID-19, this piece has been with you for an unusual extended period of time, living in your space for two years. How has the extended loan period added, changed or affected your experience with the piece?

The piece has become even more familiar, to the point that I could no longer imagine the room without it (it looks very empty now).

Has the piece sparked any conversation with friends, family or roommates who have seen the artwork in your space? (via Zoom or otherwise)

Everyone who comes to my room really likes it and feels like it fits well within the space. The piece was not visible on Zoom.

What have you enjoyed most about having this artwork in your living space?

I enjoyed not having a blank wall.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

Do it!

Rijul Kochhar

Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero
At Sea, 1966
Etching
Gift of Cynthia F. and Michael W. Weisfield ('66)
WC.2011.028

Copper colored print of a boat at sea with a flag and a large army on board.

What drew you to this particular piece?

It’s an aquatint etching of what looks like a slave ship (or is it a ship of migrants in search of shore?), and the idea that really drew me was the struggle within this. There’s an interplay of light and dark as the piece depicts people who are suffering in all types of ways, and it also depicts them in their humanity. We’re all undertaking journeys, and what I really found interesting was the power of these journeys and the movement of people.

How did you choose where to display the piece?

I live on campus, and this piece was hung in my living room, up on the wall next to my work desk. Light falls the best in the living room, next to the big windows, so the piece comes out nicely in the afternoon sun. The colors within the piece change their hue through the day based on the movement of sunlight.

Due to COVID-19, this piece has been with you for an unusual extended period of time, living in your space for two years. How has the extended loan period added, changed or affected your experience with the piece?

Having this piece for an extended period of time has made for a more intimate relationship between myself and the painting. It was almost as if a guest was invited into one's space and the guest stayed longer than anticipated. The artwork created a sense of the familiar and served as an anchor through COVID. This image of a slave ship has also felt relevant to the times we’re living in as it's a powerful and painful reminder of the inheritance of racism in this country. So many people were displaced early in the pandemic; however, this artwork has seen me through the pandemic and borne witness to the time we’re living in. I have a fondness for this painting, and it’s been quite meaningful to have this particular piece with me through COVID.

Has the piece sparked any conversation with friends, family or roommates who have seen the artwork in your space? (via Zoom or otherwise)

Unfortunately not. The artwork was not in view in my Zoom background, and I’ve not really had any visitors through this past year. There has, however, been an ongoing conversation between me and the artwork, which I guess is another signature of the times. Despite the lack of visitors this past year, I have been able to withdraw within and think more deeply about the piece, both in terms of its depiction and its quiet material existence over a half a century.

What have you enjoyed most about having this artwork in your living space?

Each artwork is a traveling exhibit in its own right. I like that it has a life prior to me and will continue to do so after me. I like the idea of the circulation of the artwork. You never know where these pieces have been, and I find it interesting that this material object carries the experiences of other people.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

It’s a unique experience, and I would urge people to participate. If you don’t receive the work you feel drawn to on your first attempt, you always have an opportunity in years ahead. And not to mention the pleasure of participating in the process of selecting artwork, standing in the List Gallery with so many other people all in the pursuit of curatorial curiosity—that’s sublime!

Marissa Beth Kondtadt

Marilyn Minter
Shit-Kicker, 2006
C-print
Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program
CNS.2006.009

Close up photograph of a person wearing blue heels stepping in a brown puddle, making the water splatter all over.

What drew you to this particular piece?

I love the bright colored shoes contrasting with the muddy water. She seems like such a badass—willing to rock a great outfit in any and all conditions.

How did you choose where to display the piece?

In both my living spaces, I wanted Shit Kicker to be of central focus. That way, I could enjoy the energy every day in my living/working environment.

Due to COVID-19, this piece has been with you for an unusual extended period of time, living in your space for two years. How has the extended loan period added, changed or affected your experience with the piece?

I got to live with Shit Kicker in two different apartments because of COVID19—she has really become a central part of my Boston décor. I miss her deeply now that she is gone.

Has the piece sparked any conversation with friends, family or roommates who have seen the artwork in your space? (via Zoom or otherwise)

Constantly—mostly because I point her out to any new person that comes into my home, but also because it is impossible not to notice such a neat photograph.

What have you enjoyed most about having this artwork in your living space?

I have often struggled to select art for myself. Having this piece helped me realize the style that I appreciate the most, and how it would fit in with my existing furnishings.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

Go with your gut! I think I won Shit Kicker in the lottery because others may not have listed it as highly. But she was my #1 choice because I knew as soon as I spotted it, it matched me.

2019–2020 Student Stories

Julia Chatterjee

Audra Skuodas
Vibrational Conscilience, 2005
Color serigraph
Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta
CNS.2007.010

A girl in a red striped shirt sits at her dorm desk with her laptop open and gazes at the posters on the wall in front of her.

What drew you to this particular piece?

First, I liked its size. I also noticed that it matched the color scheme of my section of my room. The pale pink and evergreen lines matched my “Grand Budapest Hotel” poster also hanging on my wall.

How did you choose where to display the piece?

I hung it above my desk. In my bedroom at home, my walls are a mosaic of hung items ranging from postcards to a thrifted tennis racket. The wall above my desk is a continuation of this practice. Displaying it among my own posters made the piece feel truly incorporated into my room.

How does the piece interact with your space?

The piece definitely draws people’s attention, but it also makes sense among the items in the room. Its presence in my dorm is similar to the one it had in the gallery when I first saw: it blends in, but once you spot it, it stands out.

What has your experience been like living with the artwork? 

Living with the artwork has been a source of inspiration for me. I did some research on the artist, Audra Skuodas, and the ideas behind her work are very intriguing. She portrays the concept of vibrational vulnerability: the invisible phenomenal of incremental cause and effect. Living with this art has introduced me to new ideas that I otherwise would not have encountered.

Do you think that its presence has an effect on you personally?

I watched a video where Skuodas compared art to science because they both are pushing boundaries. I have always been interested in the humanities and the arts, and at a place like MIT, I was nervous I would only focus on technical subjects. I have been happily surprised that there are so many opportunities here that highlight the intersection between science and art. Skuodas’s work helped me locate my interest in these crossroads.

Has the piece had any effect on visitors when they enter your space?

I am very proud that I was lent this piece, so I often point it out to people. The precision and colors within the work create an abstract piece that leaves a lot up to interpretation. I see it as being inspired by the female figure, and this often sparks conversation among my visitors.

What has been most exciting for you in having a professional art work in your living space?

The most exciting part for me has been the trust that having professional art work implied. When I picked up my piece, I literally walked into the museum and took it off of the wall. At most museums, censored wires prevent you from simply standing too close to a piece of art.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

You should totally participate in the Student Lending Art Program. There are so many great pieces that can make dorms feel more like home and inspire new relationships with art. Look for a piece that you personally connect with or find interesting.

Madeleine Daepp

Carmen Herrera
Ariel, 2008
Silkscreen
Purchased with gifts from Brit d'Arbeloff, Karen & Greg Arenson, Karen Ho, Colleen & Howard Messing, John & Cynthia Reed, Sara-Ann & Robert Sanders, Sarah Sarvis & Frederico Milla
CNS.2011.016

A woman reads in a chair in the corner of a room with houseplant to her right and a blue silkscreen print to her left.

What were some things you looked for in a piece while you were making your choices from the collection? 

I’m so used to getting just a few minutes with artwork in a museum. I was surprised to find that I looked for very different characteristics when picking out a piece to spend a whole year with. There were some funny text-based pieces and surrealist works that I loved in the gallery but that felt a little overwhelming for a long-term relationship. I thought that pieces with big, bold colors might create a more comfortable, long-term sense of joy.

What drew you to this particular piece?

I liked the clean lines, how even though it’s really simple there’s something new to discover every time you look at it.

How did you choose where to display the piece?

I live in a small Cambridge apartment, and it’s easy for the rooms to feel cluttered. The geometric minimalism of the piece ensures that it always feels clean and comfortable in that corner of the room, at least.

How does the piece interact with your space?

I live in a small Cambridge apartment, and it’s easy for the rooms to feel cluttered. The geometric minimalism of the piece ensures that it always feels clean and comfortable in that corner of the room, at least.

What has your experience been like living with the artwork? 

It has been a treat. When I got it, I sent photos to some members of my family. It was really special to hear their reactions – everybody connects with it in a different way.

Do you think that its presence has an effect on you personally? 

I find it calming. If I’m stressed or if I need a break from my research, sometimes I’ll just sit on the sofa and enjoy the artwork for a while. It’s a reminder to be grateful for daily interactions with beautiful things.

Has the piece had any effect on visitors when they enter your space? 

The piece is definitely the first thing people notice. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to leave the living room. I particularly like sharing it with friends who have pieces of their own, because we can see how similar or different our preferences are—it’s fun to go to a friend’s place and to see a photograph or painting that is amazing, but in a totally different way.

What has been most exciting for you in having a professional art work in your living space? 

It’s nice to have a personal connection to this artist and this work – I didn’t know anything about Carmen Herrera when I selected the piece. It wasn’t until I stopped by the List Center to pick it up that one of the staff there told me about this amazing Cuban-American artist whose work had been overlooked for years before she finally found success at age 89. I now seek out her art whenever I can. It feels like I’ve made a new friend.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future? 

Give yourself lots of time to spend in the gallery – there are so many extraordinary pieces in the collection. And tell your friends, because you’ll be able to enjoy the pieces in their living rooms, too.

Tony Shu

Mary Sherwood
Mnemosyne, 1988
Monoprint
Gift of Dana Friis-Hansen
CNS.1991.001

A man sits at his desk on his laptop surrounded by houseplants and a burnt orange mono print on the wall in front of him.

What were some things you looked for in a piece while you were making your choices from the collection?

At this point in time my place was only half furnished, so I was really looking for something to guide future design decisions. There wasn’t a specific checklist, just a vaguely defined emotional assessment: I had to really want it. I strolled through the gallery three times before making a decision. Part of the fun was busily obsessing over all the details.

What drew you to this particular piece?

I’ve always been a softie for nostalgia, a sense of vastness, etc. For me, the strongest idea from the painting is passage of time. The dominant colors are various shades of rust while the building’s foundation is heavily eroded, yet the building itself still stands. What will fade?

What will remain? After looking it up, I found Mnemosyne to be the perfect name. It’s one the painting shares with the Greek goddess of memory, mother to the nine muses.

How does the piece interact with your space?

I think mid-century modern design does a good job of being thematically clean, allowing other elements to stand out. There’s instead a sense of overgrowth as soon as you enter the apartment due to plants overflowing from every corner and every wall. A planted fish tank with a bonsai moss tree takes center stage. I also have a couple of vaguely Greek busts, pieces of art, and bookends. The painting really drives the image of some civilization’s ruins being reclaimed by nature.

Has the piece had any effect on visitors when they enter your space?

It definitely provides something for the mind to work on a bit. Even though there are lots of plants, foliage is only interesting for so long. Green everywhere simply becomes the background. People visiting for the first time usually mention the painting, comment on its colors, and ask about its origins.

What has been most exciting for you in having a professional art work in your living space?

Haha, definitely displaying original artwork without the associated cost! But with this apartment, I also got to furnish and decorate my own place for the first time in my life. I’ll be here for at least a few more years, and Mnemosyne will always be the first thing I think of when looking back. Wow, look at me getting sentimental about an apartment…am I an adult now?

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

Give it a try even if you don’t have any strong feelings about visual art; I certainly didn’t a couple years ago. It’s a free service that is unique to your time at MIT. I’ve personally found appreciation of art to be one of life’s highest benefit to cost activities. Oh, and just like with your children, try to love all your choices equally since it’s a total lottery and some pieces are extremely desired (looking at you, Picasso).

Rachel Thompson

Steve Locke
Untitled (Our Honeymoon-blue), Family Pictures, 2015
Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment ink
Purchased with funds from MIT Friends of Boston Art
L.2017.001

A woman sits in the corner of her bedroom reading a book with a dresser to her right and a print on the wall behind her.

What were some things you looked for in a piece while you were making your choices from the collection?

I wanted to find something that would grow with me in my last year at MIT. I knew that I would be spending many hours alone, researching and writing and lying awake fretting over my thesis, and I was looking for a piece that I could have a conversation with as my own work progressed. 

What drew you to this particular piece?

At first glance the piece seems unassuming. A photograph of a framed picture perched on a wooden table against a serene blue background. The layers unfold, though, first with the phrase “Our Honeymoon,” written in a cursive script, opposite a pair of beach sandals. Rather than the anticipated romantic image – a vacationing newlywed couple – the frame bounds the iconic diagram of a slave ship. This commercialized, contemporary mode for displaying domestic bliss embeds, instead, a historic representation of oppression. I’ve found some of these same themes in my research on popular media representations of incarceration, and I appreciate that this piece challenges its viewers to engage with their own culpability.  

How did you choose where to display the piece?

Because the work invites close, intentional viewing, I chose to nest it in my living space. It hangs in my bedroom, and I think that this placement serves to foreground the fraught relationship between domesticity and complicity at the center of the work. In particular, it hangs on my blue bedroom wall above a wooden dresser, mimicking the piece’s own composition. 

What has your experience been like living with the artwork?

The piece begins and ends each of my days. In the morning, it reminds me to be intentional about my choices, and, in the evening, it reminds me to reflect on how I navigate the world around me. It doesn’t matter if I’m overwhelmed or running late or exhausted – I am always moved to interact with it.

Do you think that its presence has an effect on you personally?

I chose this work precisely because of the effect it has on me personally. It makes a stark, jarring juxtaposition, which, for me, has been generative and critical in these final months at MIT.

What advice would you give to other students hoping to participate in the Student Lending Art Program in the future?

Pick pieces that speak to you! Whether they challenge you, like Untitled (Honeymoon – blue) challenges me, or if they simply inspire joy when you look at them, or anything in between.

2018–2019 Student Stories

Sisam Bhandari

Francesco Clemente
Order and Disorder, 1991
Spitbite aquatint etching
Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program
CNS.1991.009

A woman sits on her dorm bed with a tapestry behind her gazing at a print on the wall to her left.

What originally drew you to this piece?

I’ve always liked little abstract art, and I felt like it would fit into my room also, kind of, that’s why I chose it. I just really liked it. I think his piece was also in the MoMA like when I saw the artist—because I’m from New York—and I usually like went to the MoMA. I recognized the artist.

How did you choose where to put it?

I brought it home, and I was like ‘okay, I’ll figure something out.’ But it just seemed to fit in. I was also thinking, like, somewhere here—and I like that it is right above my bed.

What effect do you feel it has on the space?

I feel like it’s calming, like, to look at. Just, I don’t know, like the geometry. I like the circle and the diamond that’s made by it, I like it. I feel like it has a calming feeling on me.

Would you say that it’s presence has an effect on you personally?

Yeah, definitely. I think that when I just come into my room it’s nice to just, like, look at.”

Adam Horowitz

Kiki Smith
Litter (Fireplace Editions), 1999
Lithograph
Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment
L.2014.020

A man sits in the corner of his bedroom with a blue print on the wall behind him.

What originally drew you to the piece?

That piece was…two reasons: one is the artist. I was saying it before but I’ll say it again, the artist, Kiki Smith, is from my neighborhood in New York. She works there and is somebody who I’ve admired or quite a while but definitely could not afford her pieces. So it was wonderful when I saw it hanging in the gallery, but before I saw it hanging in the List, I saw it hanging in a friend’s house last year. So it’s got a little lineage in my personal, sort of friend-family group here at MIT which is really nice. So it was my first choice both because of the artist and content, because, like, Kiki Smith makes a lot of work that I think is really stunning but that I wouldn’t really be okay with living with. Just super intense, aggressive, forest spirit work. It was like a really happy medium where it had a lot of her person in it, but maybe not so much that I couldn’t interact with it every day. It also had that sort of local lineage.

How did you choose where to put it?

I always make my rooms really crowded, just full, overflowing with things, and I decided I would keep the walls almost entirely blank, and that’s the first time I’ve ever done that in a space. So I had lots of white walls, and I wanted to wake up in the morning and face this cat spirit and, as I said before, I think of it as a dreamcatcher. It feels very—sort of protective sort of like it’s not paying attention to me, like most cats. The morning interaction with it is a nice one. So I was thinking about that, and I definitely wanted it in my room versus in a living room. I wanted it in my space. 

How do you feel it effects your space?

It’s really not like a flat—it’s a very representative piece of work and I just think of it as sort of a floating little spirit-person in the corner. I definitely don’t think of it as something I look at. I do think it’s beautiful, but I don’t think it’s particularly…a painting. So I think it just is a presence in the corner, in the space that I live with. Yeah, I guess that’s how I think of it. I guess I think of it as sort of a—as if a hawk had perched outside my window. I would just say sort of “hello and thanks for coming.” That sort of thing.

Do you think that it’s presence has an effect on you personally?

“No. Do I? Well, I mean, yes. But so does everything. So do my shoes, right? So does the texture of my blanket. I think it has an effect, I think most objects I choose to live with have an effect. Is there a particular effect? No. I think probably. I wouldn’t be able to point it out. I think, like I was saying before, my relationship with it is not that explicit.” 

Anything else you’d like to add?

“No. I think it’s a great program. I would like to add that it makes me very happy that I can live with a piece of work by an artist who I admire and could never afford. And I think it’s awesome that I feel trusted enough as a student to take it home, and that I haven’t broken it yet.”

Rachel Insoft

William Wegman
Ray Cat, 1987
Color lithograph
Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program
CNS.1989.009

Woman lies on her couch in her apartment looking up at a print on the wall to her left.

What drew you to this particular piece?

When I went to the gallery day—it was one of the first ones I saw. I think probably, selfishly, it’s because I’m a dog person, so that definitely drew me to it. Also, the size I thought was really striking. Because, you know, it’s a large piece, but it’s relatively simple in the center, so it wasn’t—it felt like you could really focus on it. It didn’t feel too busy or overwhelming, and I really liked that. It felt very accessible.

How did you choose where to put it?

This was my first choice! So, I knew I wanted something—well, I was hoping I’d get anything—and I was especially hoping for something for this space, in my apartment. I left this area blank when I moved in, hoping I would get something. So, I’m lucky, I think, in that the size, and both the content and color, the form, all fit really well.

How do you feel it effects your space?

So, when I moved in, I love to decorate, so I was kind of visualizing stuff in this space. There’s a lot of space in this apartment—the ceiling is really high—so it felt a little bit intimidating, and I knew I wanted something big and singular right here. I didn’t want to do, I don’t know, a photo wall or something because that would be overwhelming in my kind of study/living space. So, I left this blank hoping that I would get something that fit, and it did.

Do you think that it’s presence has an effect on you personally?

So, it’s definitely a conversation starter. When I was first here, making new friends, people came over to study, it was something that was really easy to talk about because it’s pretty interesting. So first, you know, obviously, I would tell them about the Student Art lottery and that, and people were always like ‘aw man, I missed out.’ I was like ‘welp, got to read your newsletters.’ But then, you know, we talked about—you know, we’d go from there. I’d be like ‘oh yeah, I love dogs, I have a dog.’ This piece has always made me think of the question ‘are you a dog person or a cat person?’ because it kind of has both of those elements. So that was a great way to make friends, which I really like. It also just makes me smile.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yeah, it definitely makes me feel like my space is more of a home. Having real art is something that a lot of people identify as an ‘adult thing,’ and being a grad student, it’s hard to feel sometimes like you are an adult, so it’s really nice to come home and have a space that is decorated and have a piece like this that’s important and impressive. It definitely feels like it brings the space together, for me. So, I really like that. It makes it feel like a home and not a dorm room or something.

Emily Watlington

Frances Stark
Untitled, 2010
Giclée and silkscreen print
Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment
CNS.2011.035

A woman in a red vest sits in a chair in the corner of a room and gazes at a print on the wall to her left.

What drew you to this particular piece?

“Well, I applied for it last year but I didn’t get it. I’ve always liked Frances’s work… I think I first saw this piece in her show at the MFA. It was cool to see it in a museum then take it home. I later got to do a studio visit with her and am actually writing an article on her right now… so I can work on the piece at my desk while the work hangs next to it.”

How did you choose where to display it?

“I didn’t want to put it over my bed, and that’s the only other wall space.”

Cassandra: it definitely goes with everything, which is like, so weird.

“Yeah, that’s actually another reason I chose it, because it goes well with my room… I used to have a vase like the one in the piece, but my roommate’s cat broke it today.”

How do you feel it effects your space?

“It’s just exciting to be able to come home to it, and it fits with what I have. I’ve had a few dreams about it because I look at it before I go to bed. It’s a fun conversation piece too when people come over.” 

Do you think that it’s presence has an effect on you personally?

“Yeah, I mean I have dreams about it and write about it!”