Artist and Community as Poet

Phillips Educator Carla Freyvogel on Lou Stovall’s poetry, and the poetry it inspired.

Many visual artists are also writers. Lou Stovall (1937-2023) was a touching example. He wrote love poems to his wife, Di. His commencement speech to the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s graduating class was delivered in the form of a poem. He also reflected on his love of nature in his elegant prints of woodland scenes with his uplifting verse “The Coming Yield” (1974):

The Coming Yield

I’ve known
some fields
I’ll bravely say,
For I have sown
an oat today.

Call it seven
you’ll hear me say
a direct route
is my highway.

Spirits high, help
Keep me gay
for I will surely
earn my pay.

I’ll sow an oat
each single day,
it helps to keep
me on my way.

It seemed fitting that as our Guided Meditation community reflected on Stovall’s vibrant collaged monoprint Roses IX, we considered a poetic response. April was National Poetry month after all!

Lou Stovall, Roses IX, 2011, Screenprint collage, 28 x 28 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Di and Lou Stovall, 2019

Sam Gilliam, "Red Petals" American, 1967, Acrylic on canvas, 88 x 93 in., Acquired 1967.

Sam Gilliam, Red Petals, 1967, Acrylic on canvas, 88 x 93 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1967

To enrich the inspiration, we placed Roses XI in “conversation” with Sam Gilliam’s Red Petals. The two artists were lifelong friends and collaborators. They both lived in Washington, DC, and had deep ties to The Phillips Collection.

So, as the two works were shown side by side on the screen, poetic responses flowed into the chat. With those words re-assembled below, we see that National Poetry Month found its expression in our Guided Meditation community that day.

Subrosa Erupting

Linear roses draped, two hearts flowing,
Disturbed flowers ascending, a red-black hole swirling.
Zoom in, zoom out
Zoom out, zoom in
Rhythmic dancing, harmonic singing, airy, meditative
Straight-laced, calculated, expansive, and free
Emerging, then blooming.

An extrovert? An introvert?
Confined or released?
Luminous, floating, and reaching
watery vibrancy emanating and surrounded
Expanding outward.
Choppy risings, bleeding, slowly bleeding…
Glory! Gory!
Dynamite explosion, submerged calm depth
Confined and released
A floating journey through the universe, then
Close-up landing!

Meet Our Spring 2023 Interns

 Meet our spring 2023 interns, who recently completed their internships. 

Dedipta Bhattacharjee, The City College of New York

Dedipta Bhattacharjee is a senior at The City College of New York majoring in English, Asian Studies, and Publishing, with additional minors in Art History and Journalism. She is a Kaye Scholar, Isaacs Scholar, City College Fellow, NBCU Fellow, and Stanford/CUNY Humanities Research Program alumnus. Her research under the City College Fellowship pertains to the portrayal of South Asian women in literature and how literature acts as a medium to link history to the realities of women. Dedipta is passionate about women’s rights, environmental sustainability, and DEAI initiatives. In spring 2023, she worked at the Phillips as a DEAI intern with Horning Chair for DEAI Yuma Tomes and DEAI Manager Shelby Bergstresser, utilizing past and present archives to further the museum’s mission to bring more inclusivity and accessibility to art spaces. She designed graphics for the DEAI department, including a diversity statement poster.

Elissa Diaz, University of Toronto

Elissa Diaz is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, having majored in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. She worked as a Curatorial Intern to expand her knowledge of museum practices and procedures, which included projects such as moving archival files from the Phillips’s Carriage House to the museum library and archives, meeting with artists to discuss potential collaborations, and conducting research for upcoming exhibitions. She plans to further her education in this field in the future. Elissa will be continuing her work here at The Phillips Collection as the Temporary Assistant to the Director of Contemporary Art Initiatives and Academic Affairs Vesela Sretenovic.

Abby Osborne, George Washington University

This is Abby Osborne’s second cycle with The Phillips Collection’s Marketing and Communications department., working with Director of Marketing and Chief Communications Officer Renee Littleton. Abby worked on draft pitches to journalists and media organizations, as well as creating marketing emails for the museum. She helped with community outreach, including the Phillips’s new business partnerships with restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood to offer discounts and specials to museum members and visitors. She also helped promote upcoming exhibitions and events throughout the community and updated mailing lists. She is a student at The George Washington University, double majoring in Art History and Political Communication.

Terrell Lawrence, Prince George’s Community College

Terrell Lawrence is currently in his last semester at Prince George’s Community College, majoring in general studies while also pursuing a certificate in human resources management. He will be transferring to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore next fall. It has been a great experience, working as the HR Intern with the Director of Human Resources Angela Gillespie and Senior Payroll and Human Resources Manager Gwen Young. He assisted with the Staff Appreciation Breakfast held for all staff in March, helped with the rollout of the spring 2023 Temporary Detail Opportunities, and assisted with the layout and testing of the Phillips’s new internal employee engagement platform.

Pour, Tear, Carve: The Possibilities of Metal

Explore how artists in Pour, Tear, Carve: Material Possibilities in the Collection (on view through May 14) use various materials in different ways in their art, and how their choices convey meaning to their work.

Take a look at the works below that incorporate metal and consider:

  • • What’s one detail you didn’t notice the first time you looked at each object?
  • • What role does the metal play in stimulating the senses?
Fainting Couch, Valeska Soares; 2002; Stainless steel, flowers, and textile; 78 3/4 in x 23 1/2 in x 13 3/4 in; 200.03 cm x 59.69 cm x 34.93 cm; Gift from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC, 2012

Valeska Soares, Fainting Couch, 2002, Stainless steel, textile, and flowers, 78 3/4 x 23 1/2 x 13 3/4 in., Gift from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC, 2012

Valeska Soares, Fainting Couch, 2002

“I don’t like tricks when it comes to materials. . . . I need to feel that the work is true.”—Valeska Soares

Fainting Couch blends the use of organic (flowers) and inorganic (steel) materials to create an unexpected sensorial experience. Soares harnesses the intrinsic properties of her materials, allowing them to engage with and interact with each other as well as the space that they inhabit. Lie on Soares’s steel couch. How does the steel feel against your back? Can you smell the Stargazer lilies enclosed in the compartment below?

Nicholas Galanin, Let Them Enter Dancing Showing Their Faces: Thief, 2018, Monotype and gold leaf on paper, 30 x 21 in., Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2021

Nicholas Galanin, Let Them Enter Dancing Showing Their Faces: Thief, 2018

This work is drawn from Nicholas Galanin’s 2018 print series with the same name, derived from a Tlingit ancestral entrance dance where the face is revealed, not masked.

The artist views the spontaneity of the printmaking process as “an attempt at capturing cultural memory that is accessed through connections to land, through skinning a deer, through cleaning a salmon—and teaching your children to do all of that. We have these things ingrained in our memory and in our DNA. Whatever that feeling is, it’s not something you can look at, and it’s not something you can hold. But you can feel it, and it comes and goes.”

Alejandro Pintado, Perpendicular Time, 2014, Charcoal and acrylic on canvas with painted metal bar, 51 x 60 in., Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2016

Alejandro Pintado, Perpendicular Time, 2014

Alejandro Pintado uses charcoal on unprimed canvas to depict delicate, pastoral landscapes juxtaposed with geometric forms. The places Pintado convey are both real and imagined, representing scenes from 18th- and 19th-century paintings and engravings. His bold interventions—the strike of red across the canvas and the black-and-white metal bar—serve as a reminder that these places did not occur organically, but were constructed and formed.