Staff Show 2013: Julia Kwon

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!

Julia Kwon’s abstract paintings are inspired by the act of mark-making; she invents new spaces with expressive brushstrokes. She has received many awards, including Joseph S. Lepgold Phi Beta Kappa and the AAUW’s poster competition: Celebrating Women’s Voice in Politics and Art.  She was also selected by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) for the Integrative Arts Fellowship.

Julia Kwon, Untitled, 2013, Oil on canvas

Julia Kwon, Untitled, 2013, Oil on canvas

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? 

I’m a museum assistant at The Phillips Collection.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

My favorite artists are Mark Rothko, Vincent van Gogh, and Richard Diebenkorn. I admire these artists for their clear vision, expressiveness, and emotional content.

What is your favorite gallery space within The Phillips Collection?

My favorite gallery is the Rothko Room. The room’s dim lighting not only adds to the depth and resonance of the colors, but also creates a comforting space for viewers to really experience the art.

What would you like people to know about your art and process?

I take pleasure in being present and making creative decisions.  Mark-making has been my biggest inspiration as it creates a series of actions-and-reactions between me and my paintings.  This state of flux provides opportunities for experimentation and discovery; it allows the paintings to intricately and continuously evolve and expand.  Lyrical, intertwined marks gradually emerge from my belief in continuous growth in life and my realization of the complex interdependence between all things.  Through painting, I create my own story with new meaning and space that not only intrigues me visually, but also moves me internally.

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

When Does Art Become Multimedia?

Two visitors sit on a bench in the middle of the Rothko Room at the Phillips

Oil on canvas or multimedia? Image: The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Photo: Benjamin Resine

Recent discussions of Bernhard Hildebrandt’s A Conjugation of Verb both here and elsewhere have encouraged me to reconsider the idea of “multimedia” art. The installation is a clear multimedia experience, combining visual art with sound and video to convey meaning. When visiting the exhibition last week, a friend commented that he found the work especially interesting within the context of a collection dominated by more straightforward examples of visual art. His remark prompted me to consider the extent to which many, if not all, pieces of art in the Phillips can actually be seen as multimedia works.

Take, for example, the Rothko Room. Unlike some of the Phillips’s more open galleries, this space is very small and intimate, eliciting silence and contemplation. The layout of the room is also of note; when Rothko visited the Phillips in 1961, he requested that the furniture in the space be limited to a single bench. In this sense, though the four Rothko paintings are remarkable and evocative on their own, the experience of viewing them at the Phillips is inseparable from the experience of inhabiting the gallery itself. The space—from its size and attributes to its ambience and furnishings (or lack thereof)—can be considered not only a vehicle for viewing the medium of art, but a medium itself.

We often don’t consider the ways in which the color of a wall or the lighting of a room affects our interpretation of an artwork. Yet all of these media, though traditionally seen as external to the artwork, form a context inextricably tied to our perceptions. With its carefully mediated spaces, Hildebrandt’s installation seems to make that concept explicit. What experiences have you had when place came together with art?

Marissa Medansky, Director’s Office Intern


The International Art and Language Soiree hosted at the Phillips on Thursday, August 16 in collaboration with the International Club of DC provided an incredible atmosphere of cultural infusion. The Tryst at the Phillips café was the perfect meeting place for all who attended, including experienced foreign language speakers and beginners looking to try something new. The native speakers and conversation facilitators led ongoing discussions about their cultures and the variety of works featured at the Phillips produced by artists of their respective cultural backgrounds. For example, the Russian patrons discussed Chagall and Rothko, the Spanish patrons discussed Picasso and Goya, and the French patrons discussed Renoir and Cézanne.

The mood was light and fun, comfortable and relaxed, making it easy to approach any language table and give it a try. Much to my surprise, that is exactly what many of the attendees did. I watched in awe as individuals floated between the Russian table and the German table, the Spanish table and the Italian table. There was minimal emphasis on proficiency in a single language and more emphasis on a friendly interaction with something new. I felt my confidence building as I observed the excitement of all the attendees in this culturally charged environment. Maybe this week I’ll attempt to recall some Spanish from my high school days, or just sit in on the French discussion to assess how much of it I can understand with my minimal background in the romance languages. Either way, the art and language soiree at The Phillips Collection provides an irresistibly welcoming vibe that encourages everyone to join the fun.

To get a feel for how these language and art soirees unfold, check out this video, courtesy of the International Club of DC, which was recorded the night I attended.

Laura McNeil, Graduate Intern for Programs and Lectures