How To Find Art For Your Space : Life Kit : NPR

An illustration of a gallery wall full of art and a woman flying through the frames, intersecting with the art and placing the last piece of art on the wall.

Simone Martin-Newberry for NPR

An illustration of a gallery wall full of art and a woman flying through the frames, intersecting with the art and placing the last piece of art on the wall.

Simone Martin-Newberry for NPR

The art you choose to display in your home tells a story. For me (TK), it represents who I am and what I care about most. After all, “If there’s any place in this world, if you are so fortunate to have a roof over your head, that you can be the main character of your story, it is at home,” says independent curator and author Kimberly Drew.

Kimberly Drew is an independent curator, author of This Is What I Know About Art and co-editor of Black Futures.

Photograph by Travis Matthews


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Photograph by Travis Matthews

I spoke with Drew about how to find and choose art for the home. Drew isn’t so interested in what constitutes “art.” Instead, Drew thinks the important question is: “What kind of stories do we want to tell for ourselves in our home space?”

The first thing to realize is that art is all around us in the everyday objects we keep, from ticket stubs to T-shirts. If it means something to you, it can be art. Go through that box of treasures and see what brings back beautiful memories, then think about how you might display them.

Next, let the art speak to you and your space. Social media, magazines, and television shows have endless advice on how to curate the perfect home. While they’re fair game for inspiration, there can also be a downside: They can push us to create the “ideal” home for external approval. Recognize that your taste is unique to you and your space — no one can dictate what you’re drawn to.

Buying art can sound intimidating, but it’s like buying anything else. Think about your budget and who you want to support. See if there are auctions that are attached to social justice issues you care about. Many artists during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s would sell art to benefit movement work like that of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress For Racial Equity (CORE). In 2021, that would be like your favorite artist doing an auction benefiting an organization you support. You can also ask the artists directly, find out where they are showing next, email them or follow them and interact respectfully on social media.

Art displayed in TK’s Dutes home. Left: Art by Bobby Kareem Hill. Right: Art over bookcase: Ta-coumba Aiken; Large art on wall: Bobby Kareem Hill; Sculpture: Juvenile (as in the famous rapper from New Orleans.)

TK Dutes


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TK Dutes

Where you place the art in the home is up to you! But there are a few things you can do to keep the work safe:

  • Try not to hang anything where the humidity levels are high, like the bathroom or above the stove, as steam can damage the artwork.
  • If you’re hanging a piece of art in a sunny room, make sure you think about how you’ll protect the piece from direct light, which can fade or discolor the work over time.
  • If you’re renting, Drew says to consider using adhesive strips that don’t leave residue instead of nails. Just make sure the hanging apparatus you use is graded to support the weight of the piece.

Remember: Art in your home is about and for you. You deserve all the beauty and joy it brings.

The podcast version of this episode was produced by Clare Marie Schneider. Daniel Shukhin provided engineering support.

We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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