Volunteer Spotlight: Chuck McCorkle

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs 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.

Chuck McCorkle standing in front of The Phillips Collection

Chuck McCorkle

For volunteer Chuck McCorkle, helping people has been at the core of his life endeavors for many years, taking him to the other side of the world and to The Phillips Collection, where he has a personal connection with some of the artists in the museum’s collection.

Chuck returned in April from Sierra Leone, where he volunteered as a mental health therapist to help medical caregivers deal with their difficult, and often traumatic, work in treating Ebola patients. Chuck had been consulting with Partners in Health, providing exit interviews with medical caregivers over the phone, when they asked if he would be interested in traveling overseas to help in person. He spent about four weeks on the ground in Sierra Leone working directly with medical caregivers and local staff, many of whom were Ebola survivors coping with the loss of their own family members to the disease.

Chuck McCorkle in front of The Colloseum in Rome, Italy.

Chuck McCorkle in front of The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Chuck graduated with an art degree from Indiana University and received a 2 year fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in the 1970s. It was there in Provincetown, MA that he initially met and worked with abstract painters Myron Stout and Jack Tworkov, assisting in packing artwork, stretching canvases, and learning what it was like to be a living artist.  In the 1980s, after having moved to Boston, Chuck began to see an increasing need for help to fight the newly recognized AIDS epidemic. This became a career changing event as he began volunteering on the local AIDS hotline. Soon after, he began working for the Massachusetts AIDS Bureau developing psychosocial support programs statewide. After receiving his MSW, he became an HIV therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital, again developing programs for clients, including a Consumer Advisory Board for the clinic.

In 2012, Chuck retired from full time social work and moved to the DC area. While in Boston he had been a volunteer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in both the galleries and for the music program. Upon moving he sought out volunteer opportunities where he could utilize his interest in the arts and music. During one of his trips to The Phillips Collection, he stumbled upon a familiar name: Myron Stout. “I was flooded with tenderness for the man and the convergence in our lives that brought us to be friends. Lots of wonderful memories,” Chuck recalls thinking, “Of course the Phillips would have a Myron Stout in their collection.”

Art has also played an important role in his personal contemplative practice. Upon moving to the DC area, he began working collaboratively with the Shalem Institute where he is one of the leaders of a pilgrimage to Assisi, called “In the Footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare.”

Chuck has been an Art Information and Phillips Music volunteer at the museum since 2013. He helps visitors navigate through the galleries and offers insights on the museum history and artworks. In addition, he is a music volunteer where he assists concertgoers during Sunday Concert performances. Chuck believes social work and art have similar and very important qualities—helping people understand themselves and the world around them. Both are creative endeavors which can lead to personal transformation.

Staff Show 2016: Travis Houze

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.

Travis Houze, The Purification of Summer

Travis Houze, “The Purification of Summer”

Travis Houze

Travis Houze, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Travis Houze. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Tell us about yourself and your work.

If there is anything that I want many to know about my vision, it generally can be summed up in two elements. The first is I use a warm-toned color palette, consisting of darker reds, browns, and yellows. The second is chiaroscuro, where I tend to keep the subjects I photograph illuminated a little more than the background that surrounds them.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I currently work as a Museum Assistant. I believe one of the interesting aspects in my job is being close to so many great masters of painting and learning the various different ways the painters use their paints, whether its oil or acrylic.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Some of my favorites in the galleries consist of Pierre-Auguste Renoir for his attention to all the little details, Vincent van Gogh for his distinctive color palette used throughout most of his work, and William Merritt Chase for his use of chiaroscuro (the study of lighter objects against darker objects).

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

My favorite gallery space currently is the Music Room. What I love about the location is the grand scale and design of the ceiling and walls, and the fireplace that gives me a sense of the design elements seen in many other buildings in the 20th century.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I came up with the photograph when the model in the image let me know of a hidden waterfall in the Maryland area. I was astounded by the scale of the waterfall and overall scenery. I knew then that I wanted the model to have some form of interaction with the environment and play the posing out a little more organically than my usual portrait work. I wanted to get as wide a shot as possible to not only show the size of the rocks in comparison to the model, but also the height of the waterfall.

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

Staff Show 2016: Kristen Calcaterra

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.

Kristen Calcaterra, "Steve Zissou"

Kristen Calcaterra, “Portrait of Steven”

 

Kristen Calcaterra

Kristen Calcaterra, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Kristen Calcaterra, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

After receiving her BFA from RISD in 2011, Kristen Calcaterra moved back to Northern Virginia where she currently resides.  She is very influenced by local historic homes.  Her personal body of work centers on the presence of violence, disease, and unfortunate living conditions in an otherwise beautifully and meticulously crafted home.  In addition to working at The Phillips Collection, Calcaterra teachesg Portfolio Preparation to high school students anticipating a career in the pursuit of fine art.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am an Admissions Supervisor at The Phillips Collection.  I really like to think that I help to represent the collection to the public.  I’m the first person that most visitors see when they walk in, and it’s important to me that their first impression of our museum is a pleasant one.  I think it sets the mood for their entire experience.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

I absolutely love Pierre Bonnard.  His sense of color is phenomenal and I just love the way that so much of his work with color reminds me of Claude Monet‘s work in the 1890s.  I feel that Bonnard is sometimes overlooked, but with our wonderful collection it’s truly hard to miss him!

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

The Music Room is just stunning.  A lot of my personal work has to do with architecture of older buildings, so really I love all of the spaces in the original house.  They’re so intimate; it’s like being welcomed into someone’s home with all this gorgeous artwork everywhere.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I’ve just gotten back into working with the figure.  Since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011 with a BFA in Painting, all of my work has been non-figurative.  I typically work with the concept of the ornamented interior and the deconstruction of it’s, let’s say, perfection.  I’m excited to soon reincorporate the figure into my personal body of work.  This piece really helped me regain my footing when it comes to representing people, and I hope it will strengthen my upcoming works.

Find more work by Calcaterra on her website.

The 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show will be on view August 16 through September 19, 2016. The show features artwork from the Phillips Collection staff.