In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 17, 2017.
Esther Epstein, Expanse In Calmness
What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
My role is a Museum Assistant in The Phillips Collection. The most unique aspects of my work are talking with people from all over the world and learning about their experiences and how they see the Phillips artwork and architecture. I enjoy viewing the work in the Phillips as it inspires me to paint almost daily. The staff are kind and artistic so it’s a comforting environment to work in.
Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
My favorite artists are Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, and Jake Berthot. Agnes inspired me in the realm of letting go of my work. When in an interview, Agnes was asked,” What makes you most happy?” She responded,”When my art goes out the door.” Most powerful is when Agnes stated that she “paints with her back to the world,” as do I.
Joan Mitchell’s work is so free-flowing and vividly colorful which opens one to contemporary expressive nature. Jake Berthot intrigues with his small painterly canvases that say so much with so little.
What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?
My favorite space is a mix of many in the Phillips. I find the layout that the Preparators skillfully formulate to be spacious and intimate in many areas; treasures often pop up when you turn corners. I like the surprises when one gallery changes paintings to allow for surprise and intrigue. Never a dull moment with new and returning works. To pick only one would be difficult as I see paintings, drawings, and sculptures of interest throughout.
What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2017 Staff Show (or your work in general)?
My own artwork is created with complete silence throughout. A work of art is not simply about the artist’s intended meaning but a portal through which the viewer can encounter a “dreamscape” of uniquely personal emotions and interpretations. I rely on a minimal palette of color; soft abstractions, intricate and/or tangled lines to convey and elicit intensity of feeling. I exhibit in unique venues with the desire to lessen stress and provide tranquility to those who view my work.
My personal background involved my passion as a practicing art therapist for a total of 26 years at The National Institutes of Health, Private Practice, and Suburban Hospital with people of various diversity and diagnoses. The experiences were a highlight in my life with valuable impact. I have a Masters in Art/Art Therapy from The George Washington University.
I want to thank Instagrammer “Katelawlaw” for her most kind and humbling interest in my artwork and inspiration.