Staff Show 2018: Charles Chen

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2018 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 30, 2018.

The Intersection of Symbolism and Realism by Charles Chen

The Intersection of Symbolism and Realism by Charles Chen

Tell us about yourself.

I am an artist and museum professional. I currently work as a Museum Assistant at The Phillips Collection and an Interpretive Visitor Guide at the US Capitol. I have also served at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Newseum. I studied studio art and museum studies for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively. As an artist, my mediums of interest include printmaking, works on paper, digital art, and photography. I am interested in documenting social justice and inequality, urban culture, and politics.

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 am a Museum Assistant. I safeguard the collections and help make visitors’ experience memorable and enjoyable. But when visitors are not around, I get to study the museum’s world-class paintings up close, observing artists’ skillful and expressive techniques and realizing small details and revelations over time and repeated observation.

Photo of Charles Chen

Charles Chen

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

John Sloan and Pierre Bonnard

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

Staircase of the original Phillips House

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2018 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I work in digital and traditional art mediums but I am drawn most to photography, specifically the subject matter of street photography. A native New Yorker and urbanite, I am drawn to the energy of recording humanity and all its interaction with the urban environment. This tongue-and-cheek scene explores an every day scene while playfully contrasting different artistic movements.

This Is My Day Job: The James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view through September 30, 2018. 

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