Staff Show 2012: Ellen Stedtefeld

In this series, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator Jenna Kowalke-Jones profiles participants in the 2012 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show.

Gallery Educator Ellen Stedtefeld is a triple threat: art historian, art educator, and artist. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and has worked at several art museums and schools in the midwest and east coast. Stedtefeld is currently the middle school visual arts specialist at Capital City Public Charter School.

Ellen Stedtefeld with her work, Loss, 2012. Photo courtesy: Ellen Stedtefeld.

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

I am a gallery educator. The best part of my job is the people I meet while giving tours. I’ve met international curators, artists, students, collectors, and tourists from all over the world. Having a diverse tour often leads to thought-provoking conversations about art. Often times it is the amateur art enthusiast who will help us all discover an exciting new insight.

Who is/are your favorite artist/artists in the collection? What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?

Over the past three years I have learned to love many places and artists at the Phillips. However, more than any favorite space or artist, I most enjoy the curatorial approach of the Phillips. Galleries are constantly changing, allowing for a variety of works to be displayed and new relationships to be discovered. No two trips to the Phillips are the same.

Ellen Stedtefeld. Loss, 2012. Mixed media.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2012 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show and your work in general?

This is the final artwork in a series inspired by my work with incarcerated youth in D.C. The series consists of five works of similar size featuring a bold object in permanent marker on top of a collage background. Each work is meant to convey a sense of beauty, isolation, and despair. The title Loss is intentionally open ended, allowing the viewer to consider what has been lost. I was initially hesitant to put a macabre work in the staff show until I discovered a few “congenial spirits” within the Collection such as Dead Bird (1890s) by Albert Pinkham Ryder and Dead Crow (c. 1943) by Henry Varnum Poor.

The 2012 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view September 4-October 9, 2012.  Please join us for the reception on September 27, 5:30-8 pm. This year’s show features 35 artworks, of various media, all by Phillips Collection staff.

Jenna Kowalke-Jones, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator

23 thoughts on “Staff Show 2012: Ellen Stedtefeld

  1. Great blog. I’ve found your tours to be very interactive and full of good questions. I have my own questions about your art. Do all of the rest of the paintings in your series have titles? Is there a story the five paintings follow that end with “Loss”? I also liked the links to similar works of art at the Phillips, however the “Dead Crow” link isn’t working.

  2. You are so!! talented. Your range of experience and your perspective is really interesting and inspiring, I look forward to seeing what else you come up with!

  3. I like the sense of mystery of your artwork and the questions that it brings up. It makes me wonder what has been lost. I like the color palette and the textured background with the stark black drawing on top. Nice artwork!

  4. Ellen rocks- her art is amazing and her teaching is also amazing- our students at Capital City Public Charter School are very (very) lucky to be working with her.

  5. This is stunning work, Ellen. Our students are truly lucky to have you! Thank you for inspiring them, and me, to keep creating, reflecting, and making our world a more beautiful place.

  6. As usual, your blog is very thought provoking. To me your art work, Loss, conveys such a sadness especially in the context of being inspired by the incarcerated youth. It’s interesting that Duncan Phillips collected two art works on the subject of dead birds. Is there any history on why he acquired those particular works? I look forward to your next endeaver.

  7. I love this series Ellen. The works really touched a deep part of me. Art is so vital to human expression and to connect us. Thanks for sharing your talent with us. Also I’m really motivated to come to the Phillips more now to see what I will discover!

  8. You are truly an inspiration! Your dedication to the students at the Incarcerated Youth Center is evident. Thanks for sharing your experiences there through your art.

  9. This piece is really powerful. I want to see more of your work, especially since I know the inspiration is so important to you – I think you should definitely share this with your students!

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