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.”