Fellow Spotlight: Alexis Boyd

Meet our 2021-22 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. 

Alexis Boyd

Why are you interested in working at a museum?

I am an artist, writer, and researcher whose work engages Black critical and fabulative ecologies through visual and literary works and a transdisciplinary research practice. I have a BA in English and a BS in Applied Mathematics from Howard University, and I’ve recently earned my Research Master’s in Artistic Research from the University of Amsterdam. My time as a graduate student of Artistic Research gave me a unique opportunity to incorporate my theoretical research interests and artistic practice into a polyvalent and mixed media engagement, which has instilled within me a deeper appreciation of the importance of the practice and critical study of visual art and their webs of conceptual, historical, and socio-cultural significance. I believe that the artistic engagement emerging from “historically marginalized” communities is critical to the development of conceptual tools to face an increasingly ecologically precarious future and can serve as a limitless source of answers for past and future ideological and socio-cultural concerns.

What brought you to The Phillips Collection?

I am interested in working at a museum because, while I love art and art spaces and am interested in curatorial research, I can think of no better site to intimately engage with the various narrative, ideological, historical, political, and deeply situated stakes in the meaning making of art. I am excited to be at The Phillips Collection because I am really looking forward to being a part of an intentional, institutional effort to critically interrogate and consciously account for the role art institutions have played in maintaining systemic inequity.

Please tell us about your work at the Phillips over the summer, and the projects that you will be working on during your fellowship. What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?

As a 2021-22 Sherman Fairchild Fellow, I have the exciting opportunity to work with the DEAI and Curatorial departments on the museum’s Institutional History initiative. This summer, I’ve been responsible for completing the preliminary historical and archival research. It has been incredibly interesting doing a deep dive into The Phillips Collection’s history and its relationships with various situated and intersectional communities and cultural institutions in Washington, DC. We hope to broaden the historical narrative to consider the institutional, ideological, socio-cultural, economic, and political arrangements that have led to The Phillips Collection as we know it today. We also aim to interrogate the ways the museum has benefited from and contributed to systems of oppression.

What is your favorite painting/artist here?

The first to come to mind is Simone Leigh’s No Face (Crown Heights). There is something fabulatively brilliant within the disjointure and synthesis in her exploration of Black female subjectivity while subverting the visual expectations of a subject, in the work’s intimacy and the very specific social and historical scenes it calls upon, and in its beautiful and unsettling organicism.

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 terrible texter, but, as a result, I’ve gotten a few of my friends to agree to writing each other handwritten letters, which I’m super excited about!

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