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


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.