STAFF SHOW 2016: BRITTANY-ROSE O’DOWD

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.

Brittany O'Dowd, "Study of Adam"

Brittany-Rose O’Dowd, “Study of Adam”

 

Brittany-Rose O’Dowd

Brittany-Rose O'Dowd, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Brittany-Rose O’Dowd, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Tell us about yourself.

I am an amateur of many media—I photograph nature, paint bright abstract pieces, and do still life and studies in charcoal.

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 work in Membership and Development, and my job consists of keeping our database clean and up to date, processing gifts, and helping out wherever the Membership team needs it.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

I love Sam Gilliam. The first time I saw his work in the gallery I gasped, it was so beautiful! I’m also a big Degas fan. I was home-schooled when I was very young and he was a favorite artist of ours to learn about.

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

I enjoy the second floor of the original Phillips house a lot. I always find something that I love there, and since it’s small and quiet I get to spend time alone with the works.

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

I selected this study because I had seen an image with the figure posed this way, and found the torso almost disturbing—it seemed twisted and uncomfortable. I never had an art-anatomy course so it was new to me to think about what the muscles and bones are doing under the skin. Portraits and figures are not something I usually draw, so it was a challenge to me, but I enjoyed it.

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

Mutts of the Masters

Breakup of the Boating Party from Michael Patrick’s book Mutts of the Masters

When some friends gave me the 1996 book Mutts of the Masters by Michael Patrick, I thought it was just an overview of famous paintings that include dogs, such as the Phillips’s masterpiece by Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party. But as I flipped through the pages, the truth was exposed–Renoir’s real painting features another, much bigger dog with the title Breakup of the Boat Party.

 

 

Pas De Deux from Michael Patrick’s from Mutts of the Masters

Okay, the book is a satire (and a very amusing one at that) of historical art treasures overrun by dogs (and the occasional cat). Another Phillips masterpiece, Edgar Degas’s Dancers at the Barre, is also featured, only in this version titled Pas De Deuxa froofy French poodle dances (or otherwise conducts her business) in the lower right corner.

Degas and Coding: More in Common than You’d Think

(left to right) Infrared of Degas's Dancers at the Barre revealing multiple leg positions; new project screen for iPhone apps; Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Barre, Degas, Hilaire-Germain-Edgar, Dancers at the Barre, early 1880s-c. 1900. Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 38 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1944.

(left to right) Infrared of Degas's Dancers at the Barre revealing multiple leg positions; new project screen for iPhone apps; Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Barre, Degas, Hilaire-Germain-Edgar, Dancers at the Barre, early 1880s-c. 1900. Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 38 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1944.

After attending a spotlight tour that featured Degas’s Dancers at the Barre, my app developer friend and I had an interesting conversation. The gallery educator had pointed out a ghostlike leg peeking through the paint and referred to at least eight different legs the conservator found beneath the surface of the picture using infrared reflectography. As I’ve  studied art for years, this revelation was no surprise to me, but my friend’s perspective was a refreshing insight on the connection between the two seemingly dissimilar fields of art and software design:

“Designing software is so much more than just playing on my computer. It’s my own version of art. When I open up a new project for an iPhone app, a blank white screen appears. This small detail (whether or not it was intended) makes me feel just like an artist would feel buying a new canvas. The possibilities are endless. I can create absolutely anything on that screen, and people will interact with it and take from it a thousand different things” –S. Abousalbi

In a way, the freedom that Degas must have felt in drawing multiple legs to find the perfect line relates to the design process for my friend as he crafts functionality and usability in his apps. This parallel is one of the reasons I will always love art–everyone connects to it differently and, even when I thought I’d taken everything from this piece that I could, looking at it through a programmer’s eyes showed me something completely new.

Katherine Kunze, Marketing Intern