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 www.facebook.com/KDJ.Design or my Instagram at KDJ.Design.

 

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

Honoring Memories through Art and Storytelling

Group photo at Phillips

Student ambassadors from “Bringing the Lessons Home” with the School Programs Educators who led their tour of The Phillips Collection. Photo: James Fleming

As a School Programs Educator at The Phillips Collection, each teaching opportunity is a unique and special experience. I was recently part of something that felt extra special when I collaborated with James Fleming, Program Coordinator of Youth and Community Initiatives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). James brought his student ambassadors from the “Bringing the Lessons Home” program to tour the Phillips at the start of their Art and Memory project. This project was first adapted by USHMM in 2006 from an Israeli project, Dor le Dor (Generation to Generation), which pairs high school students with holocaust survivors. The students interview the survivors and then work together to capture the essence of the stories in an artwork.

Students at Phillips

Students investigate Jacob Lawrence’s use of line, shape, and color in The Migration Series. Photo: James Fleming

James expressed to me early on that the artistic ability and confidence level of participants in the program varied greatly. He wanted to expose the students to a variety of artworks to help them understand that there are many different ways art can visually convey emotions and ideas. During their tour, student ambassadors carefully looked at how artists made choices about color, line, and shape, among other elements.

Students with survivors

Students discuss their plans and progress with the holocaust survivor whose story and ideas they have represented. Photo: Miriam Lomaskin

My fellow educators and I were blown away by their insights through the lens of their own life experiences! At the close of the tour, James invited me to visit the students while they worked on their artworks with the survivors.

When I arrived at their classroom, it was a typical high school scene: hanging out , eating, and showing each other pictures on their phones. However, when the survivors got there, the students got straight to work and took their time very seriously. They clearly felt the responsibility of honoring these important memories. Many expressed their wishes for more time with the survivors to really “get it right.” They seemed pleased, though, with what they were able to accomplish in their brief time together. One student proudly stated, “That was my part, my idea!” after I had admired the use of symbols to help tell the story of the selection process at a work camp.

Students working on project

Students apply finishing touches to their Art and Memory artwork and explain their artistic decisions to Heather (School Programs Educator). Photo: Miriam Lomaskin

When I asked students how their time at the Phillips impacted their project, I got a variety of responses about learning to use different colors, making things abstract, and building a comfort-level in making art. One student explained, “It helped to know that things don’t have to look exactly like the real thing;” another stated, “Simplicity is okay as long as you get your message across well.”

Final projects

The finished product! A selection of the final student artwork. Photo: Heather Brubach

I hope the students have a chance to visit the Phillips again this fall, when the complete Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence, a work that inspired and encouraged many of them, will be on view.

Heather Brubach, Phillips School Program Educator

The Ambiguity of a Photograph, Part 2: Photographic Abstraction

This is a multi-part blog post; read Part 1 here.

Though we usually associate abstraction with the medium of painting, Aaron Siskind’s photograph Chicago 30 is decidedly abstract.

siskind_rothko_side by side

(left) Aaron Siskind, Chicago 30, 1949. Gelatin silver print, 13 3/4 in x 7 1/2 in, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of the Phillips Contemporaries, 2004 (2) Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1968. Acrylic on paper mounted on hardboard, 23 13/16 x 18 11/16 in. Gift of the Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1985 © 2005 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Can a photograph be painterly? If it fools the eye enough, can it have the same visual appeal of a painting? Of course there are key differences between the mediums of painting and photography, but for centuries the aim of painting was to trick the viewer; to create something so real and present that the viewer forgot that it was simply paint on canvas. The advent of photography and the emergence of modernism and then abstract expressionism helped shift the art world away from exact reproduction of the physical world. Compared with Mark Rothko’s untitled 1968 abstract expressionist painting (above right), the flourish of black in Siskind’s work appears almost like a brush stroke while Rothko’s appears devoid of the artist’s hand.

siskind_Mexican 32

Aaron Siskind, Mexican 32, 1982. Gelatin silver print, 20 in x 16 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of Marie M. Martin, 2005

Siskind’s Mexican 32 is also an abstract work, but it contains a hint of context. The identifiable shadow creates a sense of space in the work; the fraying fabric provides texture, as well as a three dimensionality and depth to the photograph (although this depth is lessened by the stark black background).

Siskind explored abstraction through his camera. These works are an important contribution to the abstract expressionist movement, in which Siskind was socially and professionally involved, but these works are also an intimate window into how Aaron Siskind understood and viewed the world around him.

Emma Kennedy, Marketing & Communications Intern