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WALLS Interview #3

In February, WCMA launched Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces (WALLS). Williams students borrowed one of 90 artworks to have as a roommate for the entire spring 2014 semester. Dana Hogan ’16 is asking WALLS participants about their experiences.

Student: Sam Steakley, Class of 2017
Major: Physics


Sam Steakley with his WALLS Artwork. Pia Fries (b. 1955), Rake, 2007. Color soap ground and spit bite aquatints with photogravure and roulette. Museum Purchase, Fulkerson Fund for Leadership in the Arts.

How did you select your artwork?

I actually didn’t use the online resource to preview the works available. I was sitting there two hours before it was going to happen, looking at the pieces for the first time. I didn’t have that many solid ideas going in. I have enough experience passively observing art that I know my reaction to things, so I trusted in that process.

And what was your reaction to this artwork?

I thought it might be good to have something physically big – especially in such a small room. It takes up my whole wall, which makes it more of an ambient feature. That was an idea I had going in. Another thing I thought about was, How interested am I? Looking at the way the print is executed, there are different textures and entities on the same plane, which look like they’re from different worlds and are interacting and passing through each other. It’s been very thought provoking

Did you wait in line?

Well, I was one of the crazy people. I was the third person in the line, behind the people in a tent. I ended up just bringing a folding chair, and I don’t know if the word harrowing is too strong, but that was definitely the genre of the experience. I was there since 4am, so it was a little rough.

I’ve heard the line-up described as a “bonding experience”; did you make any new friends?

Yeah, you know, I sort of did. We haven’t really seen or spoken to each other since, but there was definitely a sense of camaraderie.

Was there any part of the process that you found surprising?

When I was leaving the museum, painting in arms, I thought I had grabbed the hooks I needed to hang on my wall, but I only grabbed the command strips. Fortunately, I was able to scrounge some hooks. I managed to get it hung correctly with the appropriate amount of support, which was kind of a miracle. I was surprised by how tiring it was to carry it back to Sage – it was an ordeal.

Your artwork is housed in an entry: what have been the responses of your entrymates?

Some people expressed “oh, I wish I had that,” but it hasn’t been a huge point of discussion. Let me ask my roommate Andy [Yu Zhu Yao]… Andy, how do you feel about the artwork?

[Andy:] I like the colors – I don’t know what it’s describing really. But I’m glad we have it.

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