Meet our 2020-21 Sherman Fairchild Fellows. As part of our institutional values and commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, the Sherman Fairchild Fellowship is a comprehensive, yearlong paid program that includes hands-on experience, mentoring, and professional development.
Why are you interested in working at a museum?
I have always loved museums. As a kid, they stoked my imagination and led me to imagine realities outside of my own experience and time. When a collection or idea is interpreted well, it creates an enrapturing and transportive experience for visitors, and eventually I started wanting to be a part of creating that for others. To me, museums are the purest possible embodiment of the joy of learning and have an unparalleled capacity to share the fruits of intellectual and creative rigor with the broader public. I want to work for an institution with that sort of mission.
What brought you to The Phillips Collection?
I graduated from American University in 2019 with a Master of Arts in Public History, and for a year afterward, I worked as a tour guide at the US Capitol. While it was still possible to give tours, I had a lot of fun discussing and sharing art, architecture, and history with hundreds of visitors each day, and I learned a lot about presentation through this experience. By mid-2020, the museum field had largely closed down, but as I was and am still very early in my career, I was ready to learn new skills and develop as a professional. The Phillips Collection offered that opportunity through the fellowship program, and as digital fellow I’ve been working to expand what we do online and digitally.
Please tell us about your work at the Phillips over the fall, and the projects that you will be working on during your fellowship. What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?
The Phillips is in a really interesting transitional space in terms of its digital approach. Throughout the early part of 2020, the greatest need was to make what the museum does on-site available online. As we continue to digitize our museum offerings through our website, on an upcoming app, and through social media, we are finding that we can reach interested visitors from around the world, whom we could never serve in our physical museum. The mantra of late 2020 was, “The digital age is here to stay,” and so I’ve been working to create a conceptual and philosophical foundation for a sustainable virtual model for The Phillips Collection. By the end of my fellowship, I hope to have put in motion a “virtual” membership tier as an extension of our membership program so that virtual visitors can make the most of our online programming and interpretation.
What is your favorite painting/artist here?
The Uprising (L’Emeute). Consider the Age of Revolution. Liberalism—the politicization of liberty—encompassed ideas of free trade, free speech, religious freedom, and the right to vote. These ideas harken back centuries, but the struggle to achieve them was neither a singular moment nor of the distant past. Notice the style of this painting and consider its inclusion in a modern art museum. These struggles and politics persist through the modern era and into our contemporary space. The clean through-line between ideas, movement, style, and space compress the timeline as if daring us to dismiss or forget.
If you were to describe the Phillips in one word, what would that word be?
What is a fun fact about you?
I’m a quilter. I feel like there aren’t very many quilters anymore, and I get it: it’s a lot less work to buy a bespread! But for me, it’s a good way to balance out the end of my day. The work I do tends to be pretty intellectually demanding, so I like to unwind with what’s essentially just cutting and stitching fabrics into pleasing arrays. It’s a low-stakes activity that always produces something nice.