Sisam Bhandari


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


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


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


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!”