Madeleine Daepp


Carmen Herrera
Ariel, 2008
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


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 wanted to be able to share it with visitors, so it was natural to pick the living room. I also wanted it to be opposite comfortable seating, so you can spend as long as you want enjoying it – or you can just glance up at it now and again while reading or working in the space.

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.