Wellness Kit Activity: Celebrating Kin with Whitfield Lovell

Over the past year, The Phillips Collection has distributed over 2,000 Wellness Kits to families near our campus at THEARC (1801 Mississippi Ave SE). These kits contain masks, hand sanitizer, toys, and all the art supplies you need to complete an included activity. Now we want to do the same activities with you! You can assemble your own Wellness Kit activity by purchasing the supplies and following the instructions below.

For this project, you will need:

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XXXV (Glory in the Flower), 2011, Conté on paper, vintage clock radio, 30 x 22 3/4 x 5 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2013

Look Closely:

The importance of home, family, ancestry feeds my work entirely. African Americans were generally not aware of who their ancestors were, since slaves were sold from plantation to plantation and families were split up. Any time I pick up one of these old vintage photographs, I have the feeling that this could be one of my ancestors.”—Whitfield Lovell

Look closely at the man in this work of art. Who do you think he is? What might he be thinking? How could he be feeling? Whitfield Lovell drew this face by hand. He studies old photographs and carefully draws every detail. Notice the clock radio below the drawing. How might the clock be connected to the portrait?

Inspired by old, anonymous photos, Whitfield Lovell created the Kin series. Kin means a family member or relative. Even though Lovell does not know the people he draws, he imagines a kinship with them. This kinship makes him want to spend time with them, creating detailed portraits. He envisions their full life, choosing objects that represent their complex identity. By celebrating these people in art, he makes them important and makes sure they will no longer be forgotten.

Celebrating Kin:

Inspired by Whitfield Lovell, we will create art that celebrates people who are important to us. Lovell uses three-dimensional frames, or “shadow boxes,” to display his drawings and found objects together as one work of art. In this activity, we will be creating a three-dimensional object and a house-like structure that will serve as a frame for our object. We can decorate our paper “frame” with drawings that celebrate our special person.

Sculpt Your Object:

  • Before you begin, decide who you will represent in your art. Why is this person important to you?
  • Next, think of an object that relates to this person. What does this object tell us about this person? Does the object connect to a memory you have of this person?
  • Sculpt your object using Model Magic.
  • You can add color to your sculpture using markers.
  • Model Magic hardens when you leave it out to dry. If you want to create your sculpture during the Sunday workshop, do not open your Model Magic ahead of time.

Fold Your Paper “Frame”:

  • Find your cardstock paper.
  • Follow the diagram from the National Museum of Women in the Arts to create the “frame” for your sculpture.
  • Stand your frame up so that it looks like a house.

Create Your Portrait:

  • Decide where to create your portrait on the frame. Think about how you will display the frame with the sculpture.
  • The portrait can be as realistic or abstract as you want. Whitfield Lovell’s portrait is realistic; it looks like a photograph. An abstract portrait uses symbols and colors to represent how a person makes you feel.
  • Use markers or any other art supplies you have.
  • Get creative! You can decorate any and all sides of the frame.
  • Display your frame and sculpture together.

Portrait of Frida Kahlo with birds and roses.

Portrait of artist’s mother with abstract sculpture inspired by nature walks.

Phillips at Home: Home for the Holidays

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively. Let’s go home for the holidays with artist Charles Demuth!

Materials: coloring supplies (markers, color pencils, crayons), scissors, glue, printer

Charles Demuth, Red Chimneys, 1918, Watercolor and graphite pencil on medium-weight, medium-textured, off-white, wove paper, 10 1/8 x 14 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1925


Look carefully at this work of art by Charles Demuth. What do you notice? Do you see straight lines? Curved lines? What shapes do you see? What colors do you see? Why might Demuth have focused on the roofs of the houses?

Use a pencil or crayon (and your imagination) to extend this picture using the template and draw a house that you want to live in.  What will your house look like? Will your house look like something in your dreams? Will you use straight or wavy lines? What shapes might your doors and windows be? What might you add to the roof, the house, and the yard?

When you have finished drawing your house, add yourself to the picture. Where will you be?


Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1899, photograph by Ferdinand Demuth

Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When he was not traveling to New York City; Provincetown, Massachusetts; or Paris, he lived in his family home, which is now The Demuth Museum. Young Charles was inspired by the view from his windows. He liked the geometric shapes in the city’s skyline, especially the church steeples. So did his father, Ferdinand Demuth, an amateur photographer. Here is one of his father’s photos showing Lancaster’s architecture in 1899.

Duncan Phillips included Demuth’s work in his 1926 Exhibition of Paintings by Nine American Artists, which was an effort to make Washington aware of progressive trends in American art. The exhibition intrigued local critics. It included many American artists never before shown in the city who painted in a cubist-influenced style “based on systematized, arbitrary arrangement” of forms. In his catalogue essay, Phillips praised Demuth’s “austerity of ruled line combined with an enchanting quality of color,” and in his collection catalogue of the same year commented on Demuth’s “genius for design and consummate taste and tact.”


Charles Demuth’s painting inspired us to sketch a 2-dimensional (flat) house. Now let’s create a 3-dimensional (sculptural) paper house using a template from the Design Museum, the National Building Museum, of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Look at your house template. Imagine how your house will look when it is put together. Which part will be the front of the house and which will be the back? How will the tabs help hold the house together?

We will decorate the house before we cut and fold the template into a 3-dimensional form. Keeping the template flat, decorate your house. Use your colored pencils and crayons to add color and details.

Construct your house following the instructions. Then add embellishments like pom-poms, stickers, and tape. What else might you add to your house? Explore your own home for more decorations that will make your house look festive!

Use a variety of the templates to make a whole village!

Happy holidays from The Phillips Collection!

Phillips at Home: Crafting Community Stories

Hello from Donna Jonte, your Phillips at Home host. Thanks for spending time with me and works of art from The Phillips Collection, slowing down to look, think, wonder, and respond creatively.

We have practiced a thinking routine called See-Think-Wonder with a still life, a landscape, and a cityscape. Now, using the same mindful-looking technique, let’s explore stories in Allan Rohan Crite’s Parade on Hammond Street and Luca Buvoli’s Picture: Present.

Materials Needed:

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ages: 4+

Allan Rohan Crite, Parade on Hammond Street, 1935, Oil on canvas board, 18 x 24 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1942

Ready to explore? I wonder what the parade is celebrating, don’t you?

(STEP 1) Observe

Find a comfortable place to sit where you and your family members can see Crite’s painting on the screen. Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

With your family, look carefully at the image for at least 30 seconds. Let your eyes travel slowly from side to side, top to bottom. Notice what is in the background, middle-ground, and foreground. Notice what takes up the most space in the composition. Notice if there is empty space. Notice the colors, shapes, and lines.

What did you see? Where did your eye go first? Next? How does the artist lead you through the painting? What colors stand out to you? Lines? Shapes?

What do you think about what you see?

What is happening in the street? What is happening on the sidewalk? What is happening in the windows of the red brick row houses? Where is the sky?

What do you notice about the people in the neighborhood? Does one person especially interest you?

Do you notice the child who is about to step into the street? How does the artist make sure that we can see the children clearly? Why might he have done that?

What might the weather be like?

What is the mood of this painting? What do you see that makes you say that?

How does the painting make you feel?

Does this painting remind you of a place that you have visited with your family?

What do you wonder about this place, the artist, and his process?

What might the marching band’s music sound like? It makes me think of the Treme Bass Band from New Orleans. Do you think it matches the mood in this painting?

Thank you for sharing your observations and ideas about Parade on Hammond Street with your family.

(STEP 2) Get to know the artist

Allan Rohan Crite (born North Plainfield, NY, 1910; died Boston, Massachusetts, 2007) loved this neighborhood in Boston called Roxbury, where he lived most of his 97 years, carrying his sketchbook everywhere. Describing himself as “an artist-reporter, recording what I saw, “ he stated: “I made these drawings . . . simply to show Black people as . . . human beings that had their loves and their distresses, their joys and happiness and sorrows—just plain, ordinary people. So I made all these different street scenes with the horse carts, the vegetable man, the fish man; or people gossiping, children playing in the streets or the playground—all of these sort of homely things.” (Read his full Smithsonian Archives of American Art oral history interview)

In 1998, in an interview with the Harvard Extension School Alumni Bulletin, he said: “I am a storyteller of the drama of man. This is my small contribution—to tell the African American experience—in a local sense, of the neighborhood, and, in a larger sense, of its part in the total human experience.”

Crite was not only a painter, draftsman, and printmaker, but also an author, librarian, and publisher. He had a day job, too! For 30 years he worked as an illustrator for the Boston Naval Shipyard. Filled with curiosity, he never stopped learning. At an early age his mother encouraged him to draw and paint, and he took art classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts School of Art, and Boston University. Later he focused on history and the natural sciences, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and an honorary doctorate from Suffolk University in Boston. That is a lot of education! Does Allan Rohan Crite inspire you to become an “artist-reporter”?

(STEP 3) Extend the story

Are you ready to extend the story we found in Parade on Hammond Street? But first, let’s look at a more fantastical story by another artist—Luca Buvoli.

New York-based artist Luca Buvoli (born Brescia, Italy, 1963) invented a story based on artwork in The Phillips Collection, just like we are doing now. When Buvoli was a child he loved to read comic books and create his own. Guess what? As an adult he still does! He made a series of artworks as part of the Phillipss Digital Intersections contemporary art projects. Picture: Present is the most recent episode from the artist’s Astrodoubt and The Quarantine Chronicles series that features tragicomic visual narratives commenting on the covid-19 health and social crisis. The 12 scenes, which were unveiled on the Phillips’s website from July 20–August 7, will be available on the website through December 1, 2020.

Like Crite, Buvoli is trying to capture the human experience in his illustrations:

Buvoli said: “Through Astrodoubt, and particularly in this opportunity to interact with the Phillips’s collection, I have enjoyed the pleasure of experimenting and playing with time travel, compositions, words and images, and stream of consciousness. I developed these stories to be used as a tool of amusement, reflection, and relief during the pandemic.” Where else do you think Astrodoubt has traveled?

Thinking about Picture: Present, let’s turn back to Parade on Hammond Street. If you stepped into the picture:

  1. Who will you be? A member of the marching band? The child in the middle of the sidewalk, wanting to step into the street to join the marching band? A person in a window looking down at the parade? Maybe you are not a person but a bird perched on a roof or flying in the blue triangle of sky! A musical instrument, perhaps the glockenspiel? One of the row houses that has sheltered many families?
  2. What do you think happened just before this scene?
  3. What might happen next, when the parade moves down the street? As a character in the story, what will you do next?

Your story can be funny, silly, happy, sad, dreamy, realistic, or fantastical—whatever you wish! You are the storyteller.

STEP 4) Create an accordion book

Let’s fold one piece of paper into an accordion book for your story. Here are instructions from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a museum in DC that has an impressive collection of artist’s books in its library. An accordion book opens and closes like the musical instrument. Do you think that is a good choice for a book about a marching band in a parade?

When you finish your story, don’t forget to write the title and the author’s name (that’s you!) on the cover.

By Carina, age 8, in response to Parade on Hammond Street

By Carina Araujo, age 8, Music and Dance, two-sided accordion book in response to Parade on Hammond Street. Carina’s story shows that “there is music and dance everywhere.”

Thank you for celebrating community and exploring Allan Rohan Crite’s Parade on Hammond Street. Please share your books with us! Email photos to: djonte@phillipscollection.org