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.

Responding to Monet’s Water Lilies

Monet_the water-lily pond

Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1919. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 78 7/8 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

This is not my first time seeing Monet’s famous water lilies. I remember going to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris as a child—first with my father, later with my grandparents. At the Orangerie, the water lilies hang in a circular room, towering over you as you sit in the middle of the room. It almost seems as if you’re sitting in the middle of the pond.

When I saw the water lilies for the first time, my eyesight was like that of a hawk. Now, the colors come together in a blur; I can hardly discern where the green from the water lilies ends and where the green of the pond begins. The shapes and the strokes melt away. When I was a child, I could see each stroke from across the room. Like Monet, my eyesight grows worse. Like Monet, my vision blurs. If I were to paint, like Monet my paintings would become more and more abstract.

Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern

Monet’s Inverted Landscape

Monet_the water-lily pond

Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1919. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 78 7/8 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

Visitors have enjoyed the “wall of Monet” in Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Collection, on which three stunning works by the artist are displayed side by side. In 1883, Claude Monet moved to the village of Giverny, France, and set out to convert his home into a source of inspiration for his art. A passionate gardener, he transformed his property into an idealized landscape that expressed his interests in Eastern culture and ideals. Here, as in many of his later works, Monet gives equal attention to the trees, plants, sky, and water, creating an abstract amalgamation of tone and shadow. He also inverts the right-side-up orientation of the traditional landscape: the viewer looks down into the sky, which is reflected in water that acts as a mirror.