Seeing Differently: Amy Cutler and David Burliuk

The Phillips Collection engages with local voices by asking community members to write labels in response to works in the collection. Read some here on the blog and also in the galleries of Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century. How do these perspectives help you see differently? What would you write about these artworks?

Amy Cutler, Passage, 2001, Casein, Flashe on wood panel, 11 5/8 x 12 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Heather Podesta, 2018

This piece struck me with its absurdity. I found myself coming back to it over and over and every time, thinking, “What is going on here?!” The cat, the boats, the lace, the stoplight? And then I realized I knew exactly what was going on here. Because I have struck that same pose with my own cat. A cat that can’t resist playing with anything that twitches and you scoop him up just before irreparable destruction takes place. And even the look on her face, if a stoplight can have a face, is a look I feel I’ve had—at once punishing and relishing in the curiosity of the tiny murderer that lives under my roof. I don’t know the artist’s intention, and artistic aficionados may snub their nose at my assessment, but I like this piece for one very simple reason, because it has a cat.

Morgan Brophy, Assistant Director, Artistic Administration, Opera and Classical Programming, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (2020)


David Burliuk, On the Road, c. 1920, Oil on burlap canvas, 33 1/2 x 47 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1939

I, you, he/she love(s) my daily work. Farming, working in the office, and especially being with family in a lovely and cozy home. Children playing around, and parents planning for the future of their children. This is what life looks like or how it is supposed to look like.

However, more and more people cannot afford that life, as refugees, asylum seekers, and financial migrants are on the road, fighting for their lives. Many separated from their loved ones by sudden conflict-related deaths, persecution by dictatorship governments, and natural disasters. In 2019, 79.5 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes and sometimes from their countries, and among them 40 million are children. As human beings, we can do better at treating each other right and welcoming those who cannot afford the comfort to stay in their homes.

―Léonce Byimana, Executive Director, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International (2020)

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