Why I love my apartment's awkward artwork

My roommates and I wanted our wall decorations to represent us, so we made our own

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Josie Sydnor is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

If you were to walk into my apartment, the first thing you’d probably notice is the art on our walls. When we first moved in, my roommates and I collected pieces that we loved and that reflected our personalities. I was excited to decorate a space that showed my passion for art, and I wanted our apartment to look unique but homey.

I brought a print of a street in Amsterdam that highlights a canal framed by elegant buildings. My roommate from New Orleans bought a painting from a local folk artist that says “Laissez le bon temps rouler” — “Let the good times roll” — and a print by Mary Cassatt. My nature-loving roommate brought colorful posters that display gemstones, flowers and postcards from national parks.  

It’s an eclectic mix of pieces that we’re proud of, and we love receiving compliments. However, although we spent hours designing our common space, our best piece is tucked away in the back hallway where almost no one sees it.

The idea for the hallway art originated from my New Orleanian roommate Madison, who loves to snap and print out pictures. She always remembers to take a photo after we get dressed up, to capture a funny moment before it disappears and always has a goofy caption for her selfies.   

Instead of letting hundreds of photos become forgotten on her camera roll, she decided to print them out and paste them on our hallway wall. Her packs of photos in CVS envelopes were so full, they almost didn’t close. The photos on the wall are ordered somewhat chronologically, with last summer beginning on the top left side and the rest branching out towards the right.  

When Madison originally pitched the idea about decorating the wall, I expected a Pinterest-perfect setup. Instead of carefully edited photos meticulously spaced out, she created a space that jumbled together memories from the highs and the lows of the year. 

Pictures from the first day of school are next to unattractive selfies, which are beside photos of nice dinners, sports events, screenshots of awkward texts, a roommate holding up a cake to celebrate her new internship and me proudly standing by the dresser I built from IKEA.  

Alongside these photos are drawings, notes to one another, lights and a Christmas ornament in the shape of Louisiana. It’s far from the organized walls of the living room on the other side of the door, but this piece holds much more meaning.

I walk down that hallway multiple times a day, and each time I see a new picture I’m reminded of the memory attached to it. I didn’t originally understand why Madison wanted to hang up pictures from rough days or awkward moments — who wants to be reminded of those?  

But I changed my mind as I watched her laugh while thumbing through the stacks of photos. There’s no clear divide between the good and bad moments on the wall, just like how those moments alternate in real life.  

Displaying the photos in a way that shows the highs and lows next to one other represents how the bad moments in life are book-ended by the good ones. Seeing this is especially uplifting when I’m walking back to my room after a long day.

About half of the wall is filled up, and the other half is dedicated to next year’s memories. When we decorated our living room, we wanted our art to reflect ourselves, but it’s a space that shows the parts of us that we want to display. Madison accidentally created the work that depicts us as we really are, like a visual diary, but it is safely concealed in an area where only we can see it.     

Josie Sydnor is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached life@cavalierdaily.com.

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