Staff Show 2024: Priyananda Soubam

Meet some of the talented artists on The Phillips Collection’s staff, whose works are in the 2023 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show (on view through February 16, 2024).

Priyananda Soubam

What is your role at The Phillips Collection? What is an interesting part of your job?

I am working as a Museum Assistant at The Phillips Collection. My role involves creating a meaningful experience for visitors by assisting and interacting with them. Alongside overseeing and protecting the artwork, I am also responsible for sharing knowledge and providing information about the artwork, its creator, and the relevant historical context.

The interesting part of the job is being surrounded by beautiful paintings. I always try to have a dialogue with the paintings around me, especially in landscapes. I contemplate and consolidate myself within them.

I also appreciate the opportunity given here to Museum Assistants learn about cross-functional departmental roles. Through my Detail program with the Marketing and Communications Department, I have developed a deeper understanding and broadened my knowledge of the social media landscape, content analysis, development, management, and audience outreach for art museums.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
It’s difficult to name just one. Van Gogh, Monet, John Constable, Rothko are all-time favorites. However, the one that struck me the most is Wolfgang Laib. I love his work, Where have you gone – where are you going?, a site-specific installation (Wax Room) at our museum. I appreciate its simplicity, purity, and meditative nature. His use of material—beeswax as a medium to express a creative vision—is something I truly admire.

Wax Room by Wolfgang Laib

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

I love exploring the Main Gallery, which is next to the Wax Room. I discover many masterpieces here. I can enjoy my conventional choices and, at the same time, experience the Wax Room.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2024 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I love simplicity with a layer of message beneath. Similarly, I would want viewers of my painting to slow down, take a stroll on the rustic road of the landscape, and enjoy the nature around them.

The layers of mountain backdrop are inspired by my native place—Manipur, a small state in India. The foreground reflects my fascination with trees, creating a juxtaposition of my admiration for trees with my roots. These trees are weathered and wise, yet very much alive. These trees have witnessed countless narratives in the valleys and hills—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps now, the trees are suggesting us to slow down and appreciate the world around us, and live in harmony as intended by nature.

On view in the Staff Show: Contemplative Stroll

About the artist:

Priyananda Soubam consistently embraces the ideas of harmony and coexistence, subtly weaving these concepts into his paintings. A self-taught artist fascinated by artists like John Constable and Thomas Cole, he captures the essence of nature’s beauty. His inclination for depicting symbiotic relationships is evident, especially in his fascination with trees and their forms and textures. Through his art, he invites viewers to explore the imaginative world he creates, encouraging them to acknowledge and embrace the giving nature of trees and the inherent coexistence in nature.

With a background in advertising and marketing communications, Priyananda is currently learning and exploring the art world. He actively participated in art activities during his school and college days, earning awards for his colleges. He also participated in group exhibitions organized by the Indian Embassy in Oman. He has been active in promoting the art scene in Oman and India.