Staff Show 2016: Karina Dar Juan

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs, Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 19, 2016.

Karina Dar Juan,"Day Job Daydream: 2C"

Karina Dar Juan,”Day Job Daydream: 2C”

Karina Dar Juan

Karina Dar Juan is Virginia-born with an overseas state of mind. Having received a BA in Philosophy and Art History, followed by an MA in Art Theory and a secondary MA in Museum and Gallery Studies, all in the UK, Karina brings her expertise on European art history and Museum Practice back to the states with the hopes of working full time as a museum professional. Her art backgrounds include graphic design, illustration, makeup and costume Design, hand-knitted clothing and accessories, performance art, and running seminars and panel discussions on art within a broader cultural sphere.

Karina Dar Juan. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Karina Dar Juan. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

Museum Assistant (MA); We see all, we hear all, and we protect all. Fast reflexes are a bonus.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Definitely Wassily Kandinsky and Ferdinand-Victor-Eugene Delacroix; Delacroix because the art historian in me has a soft spot for the Romanticism versus Neoclassicism tension during the Enlightenment period, and Kandinsky because I’m fascinated by synesthesia and Kandinsky’s use of this trait to express his spiritualism.

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

I may be the exception to the rule as far as Museum Assistants go, but I usually favor the first floor of the Sant building. While it has a reputation for being cold and uncomfortable, I’ve seen its potential realized in so many different ways. It’s the tallest gallery space, allowing for towering sculptures, and it’s often the space where the most modern art pieces are shown, providing a refreshing place to pause and digest the more traditional exhibitions in the rest of the museum. Also, it’s the room I was posted in for my very first day as an MA.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I’m normally more of a knitter than any other art form, however I was inspired very early on as an MA to make an art piece on a Phillips Collection gallery. I spend all day staring at the same room, and images seem to pop out whenever I let my imagination wander. I wanted to portray the mindset of an artist lapsing into a daydream during a particularly quiet shift. Most of the motifs in my piece are from around my house, such as the plants, and I always include the usual motifs for my sister and brother: my brother as a frog or puzzle piece, and my sister as an acrobat or chipmunk.

Anything else?

Please visit my website at or my Instagram at KDJ.Design.


The 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 14 through September 19, 2016.

A “Monstrous Lampoon” of a Portrait

Portrait of James Abbott McNeill Whistler by William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1885. Oil on canvas, 74 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of William H. Walker, 1918

In 1885, William Merritt Chase stopped in London on his way to Madrid to pay a visit to James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the artist whom he had revered since the late 1870s, sharing with him a passion for the ideals of beauty and harmony in art. Upon Whistler’s urging, Chase stayed the summer so that they could sit for each other’s portraits. Their friendly relationship soon deteriorated into bitter quarreling in the face of Chase’s struggle with Whistler’s two-sided personality: “One was Whistler in public—the fop, the cynic, the brilliant, flippant, vain, and careless idler; the other was Whistler of the studio—the earnest, tireless, somber worker, a very slave to his art, a bitter foe to all pretense and sham, an embodiment of simplicity.”

To evoke the public persona of Whistler in his portrait, Chase adopts the technique of his protégé in his use of a limited palette, soft background, and thinly applied application of paint. Chase’s portrait captured his sitter’s trademark features: the white lock of hair, bushy eyebrows, carefully waxed mustache, monocle over one eye, and wand. Writing to his wife, Chase reported that his portrait “promises to be the best thing I’ve done.” Whistler, on the other hand, dismissed it as a “monstrous lampoon.” We can only guess what Whistler’s portrait of Chase may have looked like; its whereabouts remain unknown and some suggest that Whistler may have destroyed it.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

Phillips Flashback: A Man of Many Lists

list of works_Duncan Phillips

From The Phillips Collection Archives

Museum founder Duncan Phillips loved making lists. He often created lists that ranked individual works of art. In a document dated 1919-1920, prior to the museum’s opening in 1921, he put Claude Monet in third place and American painter John Twachtman in first on a list titled “15 Best Purchases of 1918-19.”

On the back of an important letter to Thomas Bower (below) about the late art collector John Quinn, Phillips scrawled a list that included baby dresses, laundry, roast chicken, chicken aspic jelly, and ice cream.

shopping list_Duncan Phillips

From The Phillips Collection Archives