Staff Show 2019: Joel Vincii

In this series, we highlight participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2019 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 29, 2019.

Joel Vincii

Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Southeast Washington DC. I studied fine arts at central state university in Ohio. Today I work full time as a gallery aide at the National Gallery of Art and I am also a practicing artist. I have dreams of being a full time artist but I am in no rush. I love working in museum settings.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? What are some unique or interesting parts of your job?
I work as a Museum Assistant. I’ve been working here part time for almost 5 years now. I am usually standing in the galleries making sure the work is safe and I also help visitors find their way around the gallery. I love talking with visitors about the collection and I love studying the works on display. It helps me with my own artistic process. It’s a privilege.

What is your favorite artwork? Why?
My favorite painting at the Phillips is Pierre Bonnard’s Terrace. It wasn’t always my favorite but it grew on me. I started to notice things about the painting as months went by. I love how radiant the colors are and how the trees vibrate. You can feel the energy just by looking at it. But my favorite painting all time is Michelangelo’s God Separating Light and Dark.

What do you like to listen to when you’re creating your art?
I listen to so many different genres. Mostly rap/hip hop, soul, classical. Jay Z, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Matt Maeson, Linkin Park.

Joel Vincii, Declaration of The Goat, April 2019, Oil on canvas

Joel Vincii, Declaration of The Goat, April 2019, Oil on canvas

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2019 Staff Show (or your work in general)?
This piece is part of a series of self portrait paintings where I focus on my own personal feelings and thoughts. This particular painting is a Declaration and Affirmation. Often I find myself struggling with my confidence and focus as a artist. I want to be the best that I can be, but there’s always that lingering voice that whispers something negative. In this painting I confront that voice. In the painting there are two Selves. One is slouched and unconfident while admiring the goat. The other figure is upright, facing forward, and self assured. The goat in the painting symbolizes “The Greatest of All Time.” G.O.A.T.

The Warmth of Other Suns: Memorials for Migrants

In The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Displacement, many artists have created memorials for those who have left home, many of whom perished in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean and other bodies of water. Through sculpture and video, artists Adel Abdessemed, John Akomfrah, Meschac Gaba, and Runo Lagomarsino tackle our long, complicated relationship with the sea.

The Warmth of Other Suns installation view of Adel Abdessemed, Queen Mary II, La mère (The Mother), 2007, Metal, Private collection

Queen Mary II, La mère by Adel Abdessemed (1971, Constantine, Algeria; lives in Paris, France) seems like a restrained if grim take on an aspiration shared by many around the world. A tin model of the luxury cruise liner, Abdessemed’s boat paradoxically makes reference to inexpensive materials with the battered metal from which it is composed. The work’s title references the “queen mother” but also plays upon the French homonym of “mere” and “mer,” mother and sea, evoking both the sentiment of nostalgia and loss that comes with leaving one’s homeland—and, perhaps, mother—as well as the risk of sea voyage, which for many migrants crossing the Mediterranean is a harrowing and potentially tragic experience.

The Warmth of Other Suns installation view of John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015, Three-channel HD video installation, 7.1 sound, color, © Smoking Dogs Films, Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, 48:30 min.

Vertigo Sea by John Akomfrah (1957, Accra, Ghana; lives in London, UK) creates parallels between the sea and migration, migration and whaling, and Moby Dick and slavery. Like the sea, the film’s aesthetic calm is interrupted by scenes of death. A bird dives swiftly into the water, spearing a school of fish. A man standing with his own spear is engulfed in the carcass of a bloody whale. Radio voices and archival footage narrate the voyages of Nigerian migrants, Vietnam War refugees, and victims of a 1781 slave ship massacre; none would have known each other, but all faced a similar struggle for survival at sea. Though the scale of the installation evokes a sense of despair, violence, and history, the film may be seen as a memorial that challenges the notion of the sea as a politically neutral space where only nature governs.

The Warmth of Other Suns installation view of Meschac Gaba, Mémorial aux Réfugiés Noyés (Memorial for Drowned Refugees), 2016, Blankets and 3 electric lanterns, Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles

In Mémorial aux Réfugiés Noyés (Memorial for Drowned Refugees) by Meschac Gaba (1961, Cotonou, Benin; lives in Cotonou, Berlin, and Rotterdam, Netherlands), a pile of blankets and lanterns propose a simple memorial and reflect a common ritual that is performed in Benin when a loved one or family member has drowned at sea: the bereaved leave blankets and lamps on the shore for the spirit of the person lost, creating a beacon for his or her soul and ensuring that the spirit is kept warm. In sharing this tradition by way of his work, Gaba calls to mind not only the thousands who have died in attempting this passage, but also to the many thousands more who survive them and are left to mourn their deaths.

The Warmth of Other Suns installation view of Runo Lagomarsino, Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), 2016, Neon, Courtesy of the artist and Francesca Minini, Milan

Mare nostrum (Our Sea) by Runo Lagomarsino (1977, Lund, Sweden; lives in Malmö, Sweden, and Sao Paulo, Brazil) consists of the Latin phrase mare nostrum spelled out in neon, with a single shifting letter repeatedly leaving the viewer instead with mare mostrum. Mare nostrum (Our Sea), once the Roman name for the Mediterranean, resurfaced as fascist propaganda for Mussolini’s naval campaign as well as Italy’s recent “Operation Mare Nostrum,” a short-lived effort to rescue migrants across the Mediterranean. Mare mostrum (Monster Sea) is the artist’s formulation; this simple shift references the constant danger of crossing the Mediterranean by boat. Lagomarsino’s alteration of language illustrates how these two ways of representing the Mediterranean—the essence of European cultural heritage or a threatening barrier for migrants—are nearly interchangeable linguistically and visually, yet enormously different in their significance.

The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement is on view through September 22.

Staff Show 2019: Jovana Knezevic Brankovic

In this series, we highlight participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2019 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 29, 2019.

Jovana Knezevic Brankovic

Jovana Knezevic Brankovic

Tell us about yourself?
I am a Master of the fine arts and art history with a degree from one of Europe’s top art schools. I paint, draw, and sketch whatever makes me happy and occupies me at the moment, whether it’s landscapes from my travels, my dog ,my plants, or books that blow me away. The pleasure that I get from all my positive experiences are what drives me to try to convey my feeling to others through the canvas.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? What are some unique or interesting parts of your job?
I work as a Museum Assistant. The best part of this job is communicating with our visitors. I love providing interesting facts about specific artists or artworks and generally information about museum.

What is your favorite artwork? Why?
I never had a favorite peace of art or a favorite artist. There are too many masterpieces to pick just one. But I would single out works of Van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Anselm Kiefer, as they have always inspired me.

What do you like to listen to when you’re creating your art?
I usually play the radio or some random playlist on You Tube. I’m always so focused on my work so I never pay attention to music in the background.

Jovana Knezevic Brankovic, Sunset Boulevard 2018 Acrlylic on canvas

Jovana Knezevic Brankovic, Sunset Boulevard, 2018, Acrlylic on canvas

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2019 Staff Show (or your work in general)?
I want people to recognize me for my adventurous spirit. My ability to let go, in order to follow my desires and find what drives me. My art is a piece of me, and my opportunity to share my perspective and experience with the rest of the world. I lived in San Diego for 2.5 years and my artwork Sunset Boulevard is a part of the series I created in California.