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.
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.
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