Fellow Spotlight: Edwin Calderon

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. 

Edwin Calderon

Why are you interested in working at a museum?
I am a painter, multimedia artist, and Maryland native. I’m currently a resident artist at Red Dirt Studios in Mt. Rainer. I earned my BFA at Morgan State University. It was there through a community art partnership that I got my introduction to creating public artwork. I participated in planning and completing murals across Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). I have exhibited my paintings and sculpture in group and solo shows throughout Baltimore City. I continue creatively engaging with the community in the DMV by organizing and hosting painting events and color workshops.

My grandmother was the first artist I ever knew; a painter and a poet. Early on, she recognized my artistic abilities and encouraged me to develop my skill. She instilled in me that knowledge is power, and inspired me to be a professional in my field. Her pastel portraits with ancient-Egyptian themes are the earliest paintings I remember seeing as a child. I dreamed of reaching her ability in portraiture and shading. Her paintings held stories of rich experiences, brought to life with gold leaf and bright colors. They also conveyed the beauty of brown skin tones set against mysterious dark backgrounds.

What brought you to The Phillips Collection?
I was captivated the first time I attended Phillips after 5. Experiencing the collection of artwork in a warm, casual setting felt more like a friend’s housewarming party than a night at a museum. I loved the way the community was invited and engaged with one another. A few short months later, I had the opportunity to virtually host my own color workshop at Phillips after 5.

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?
As a Sherman Fairchild fellow for 2020-21, and member of the Community Engagement team, onboarding into the virtual workplace has been an exciting journey. My focus has been bringing about professional development opportunities that bridge entry-level positions in the museum into administrative roles.

I am currently working with my colleagues on reimagining our centennial year’s staff show in new digital forms.  One of the goals of this new staff show is to bolster relationships between Museum Assistants and administrative staff. I am also playing a role in the design of a public artwork memorial in partnership with the Black Coalition Against Covid to honor the lives lost in DC to the pandemic.

What is your favorite painting/artist here?
Sam Giliam’s April painting is the first to come to mind. It has a resemblance to a painting I did before I saw it. The similarity in color palette and shape convey related language, which inspires me to continue the conversation in my own work.

If you were to describe the Phillips in one word, what would that word be?

What is a fun fact about you?
Next to the visual art world, BMX-bike riding is another creative outlet that invigorates me. Skateboarding and car culture had large influences on me growing up. Each of these interwoven communities creates such progressive competition, and brings color to my life.

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