Staff Show 2013: Laurel Simon

In this series, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator Emily Bray profiles participants in the 2013 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show. Join us for the Staff Show reception on October 10, from 5:30 to 8 pm!

A DC resident all of his life, Laurel Simon has lived around the urban lifestyle. After graduating Drew University with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art, he left with a heightened sense of the creative world around him. He is committed to art, with a focal point of oil on canvas paintings. Laurel relies on sneakers as the subject and portrays them in any fashion; be it on canvas, wood, or even as alternative sculpture. His priority is to complete narratives with sneakers, which come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and tell their own stories. In doing so, he hopes to display sneakers as an important part of not only urban fashion, but our lives.

Laurel Simon, AirMax: left.for.dead, 2013, Oil on canvas

Laurel Simon, AirMax: left.for.dead, 2013, Oil on canvas

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?

I work as a Museum Assistant. The job requires an extensive application of how to navigate through the building. Once that is mastered, the job becomes more enjoyable; each “building” is its own world, each “floor” is its own island.

Who is/are your favorite artist/artists in the collection?

Edgar Degas is one I favor strongly; his Study Dance Rehearsal piece on view currently is a small yet detailed piece of work with a simple narrative. That and his other works of the dance make him a fine artist to focus on and learn about.

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

The Armory show features classic work from those of the avant-garde. That, paired with the Laib Wax Room, makes this area my favorite.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2013 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?

AirMax: left.for.dead is a piece I completed early this year. My idea was to add a narrative to a subject I mainly focus on: sneakers (shoes or “kicks”). My goal was to make the viewer fully interpret the scene; did someone high-tail it out of there, leaving behind some prized possessions? Was this person stranded on an island and found solace in an escape? Does this symbolize what we all go though in life: leaving something and moving on? I hope that people discuss with themselves what they think the motive in the story is as they look at the myriad of colors, the cel-shaded motif, hints of Cubism, Impressionism, and the emphasis on a popular brand of footwear.

The 2013 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show will be on view September 23, 2013 through October 20, 2013. The show features artwork from Phillips Collection staff.

Emily Bray, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator

Team Wax Room

Photo: Klaus Ottmann

The team, left to right: Jeremiah Holland, Rachel Hrbek, Wolfgang Laib, Bjorn Schmidt, Rhiannon Newman, Tyler Smith. Photo: Klaus Ottmann

Wolfgang Laib created a permanent beeswax chamber at the Phillips in just four days, thanks to a team effort:

  • Laib’s assistant Björn Schmidt accompanied him from Germany and was the artist’s right-hand man throughout installation, from achieving the right consistency for the melted wax to applying it to the walls and ceiling and burnishing the surface.
  • Phillips museum assistants Rhiannon Newman and Tyler Smith were selected by lottery from a call for volunteers among qualified staff artists. They worked daily to break apart large blocks of raw beeswax and melt it in carefully timed batches.
  • Corcoran College of Art and Design students Jeremiah Holland and Rachel Hrbek were selected from their class by a faculty member to volunteer alongside Rhiannon and Tyler.

Listen to this segment on Metro Connection, a radio program on D.C.’s NPR station WAMU 88.5 for firsthand perspectives from Jeremiah and Rhiannon and to hear details about the process.

Before installation even began, numerous individuals played huge roles, from the project’s curator Klaus Ottmann–Curator at Large and longtime friend of the artist (Klaus also organized Wolfgang Laib’s 2000 retrospective at the Hirshhorn)–to Dan Datlow, director of facilities and security, who supervised preparations to the space including a freshly poured concrete floor.

Staff Show 2012: Meghan Schindler

In this series, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator Jenna Kowalke-Jones profiles participants in the 2012 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show. Join us for the Staff Show reception this evening, September 27, from 5:30 to 8 pm!

Meghan K. Schindler, Untitled, July 2012

Meghan K. Schindler, Untitled, July 2012

Meghan K. Schindler lives in Alexandria, VA, with her pet fish Allistair and her roommate Chance. When she has the time, she enjoys sitting on her balcony reading chronicles from 11th and 12th centuries.

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 a museum supervisor in the security department, and I am in charge of the No Name No Nothing Gallery, which allows staff members to anonymously show and sell their artwork throughout the year.

Who is/are your favorite artist/artists in the collection?
It is a tie between Gustave Courbet and Georges Rouault. They both show tremendous skill and confidence in how they manipulate the paint across the canvas. I admire their ability to convey the object with very little structure.

What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?
The West parlor where I can sit and look at Gustave Courbet’s Rocks at Mouthier (c. 1855).

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2012 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?

Drawing relaxes me; it is a form of stress release. I don’t usually start a drawing with a firm idea of where it is going. I start somewhere on the page and see what happens. Usually after about 1/4 of the page is covered I can see what is happening and will start to form more solid structures.

The 2012 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view through October 9, 2012. This year’s show features 35 artworks, in various media, all by Phillips Collection staff.

Jenna Kowalke-Jones, Young Artists Exhibitions Program Coordinator