Volunteer Spotlight: Lois A. Engel

In this series, Education Department Coordinator Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. The Phillips Collection volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concerts, assisting patrons in the Library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Lois A. Engel, Art Information Volunteer 

Lois Engel - Art Information Volunteer

Lois A. Engel, Art Information Volunteer

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection

What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
Providing a gracious welcome to visitors and engaging them in conversations about art in general and their visit to the Phillips in particular. I especially enjoy interacting with our many international visitors.

What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
I am an independent public policy consultant focusing on workforce development issues. I am also a published freelance writer whose articles have appeared in The Washington Post and online literary journals.

What is your favorite room or painting here?
My favorite painting is Chagall’s The Dream because to me it juxtaposes heaven and earth: the lovers in bed, the angel overhead, and the rooster in the barnyard.

If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?

Share a fun fact about you!
I’m a devout fan of the now-defunct Sopranos TV series and now enjoy it via multiple DVD sets.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am grateful to serve as the “face” of the Phillips when I greet our visitors. I brought my now-grown children here as little ones and their interest in art endures in adulthood. I enjoy getting to know the Museum Assistants and learning about their art studies and interests. The Phillips has been a small but special part of my life for over 30 years and volunteering has given me the opportunity to continue that journey.

May #Phillips95 Challenge: Architects of Design

Mondrian No 9_architecture_side by side

(left) Piet Mondrian Painting No. 9, between 1939 and 1942. Oil on canvas, 31 3/8 x 29 1/4 in. Gift from the estate of Katherine S. Dreier, 1953. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (right) Photo: Emily Conforto

We’re celebrating our 95th anniversary with a year of monthly challenges and giveaways! This month’s challenge takes inspiration from Piet Mondrian’s Painting No. 9, at left above. The ample white areas can be read as either flat surface or limitless space, and the colors, placed near the edge, draw the eye away from the center. As a result, the image hovers, as though weightless, in timeless silence or suspended energy. Mondrian believed that colors expressed spiritual light as well as emotion.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Explore your city’s architecture with Mondrian’s concepts in mind. Take a photo of your favorite building and share with #Phillips95 for a chance to win two tickets (+ two free drinks!) to Phillips after 5 on June 2. We’ll announce winners May 25.

Finding a Match in Gjon Mili

Pousttchi with Gjon Mili Ford Car

Intersections artist Bettina Pousttchi (right) with Phillips Collections Care Manager Laura Tighe (left)

Bettina Pousttchi stopped by earlier this month to consider works from the museum’s permanent collection to display with her own in her upcoming Intersections installation opening in June. Five of Pousttchi’s Double Monuments will be on view with a selection of the Phillips’s photographs, including the above image by Gjon Mili, Ford Car Being Driven through Deep Water at Ford Test Site, Detroit, MI (ca. 1948).