STABLE x The Phillips Collection (Part III)

We’ve partnered with STABLE arts, a studio complex in DC that provides visual artists with an active workspace. STABLE artists picked a permanent collection artwork and explain how it intersects with their own practice. Visit the Phillips Instagram for more STABLE artwork.

Read Part I
Read Part II


Ying Zhu (@Yoyoying)

The first time I stood inside the Laib Wax Room, the sense of being wrapped was overwhelming. Laib’s choice of bees wax as a material intertwines nature and man made, ephemeral and permanent. It transcends time, and led my mind wonder where past and future converge. The work I choose to share is a sprig of pine suspended in air, each needle wrapped with thread. As time passes, needles start to fall, effortlessly demonstrating grace, ephemeral fragility. It unwrapped the course of life/time passing. As an artist, utilizing natural material, and watching it change and take a life of its own path was a very powerful experience. It was a way of learning to acknowledge and accept.

Born and raised in China, Ying Zhu lives and works in DC, and is a proud STABLE artist!

(LEFT) Wolfgang Laib, Wax Room: Wohin bist Du gegangen – wohin gehst Du? (Where have you gone – where are you going?), 2013, Beeswax, light bulb The Laib Wax Room is supported by The Phillips Collection Dreier Fund for Acquisitions; gifts in memory of trustee Caroline Macomber; Brian Dailey and Paula Ballo Dailey; a community of online contributors; and a partial gift of the artist. Wax donated by Sperone Westwater, New York (RIGHT) Ying Zhu, No Strings Attached


Matt Storm (@mattstormphoto)

I was enthralled by Zilia Sánchez’s show at the Phillips in spring 2019. At the time, I was struggling to figure out how to create photographs that stretched across space and engaged the viewer’s body as an equal, and were photographs at their core. Sánchez’s stretched, sculpted canvas pieces were a revelation—clearly paintings, clearly in space, undeniably powerful. Anyone I talked to that spring heard about that show. My work now includes “in space” pieces that feature large-space fabric photographs installed around an armature, letting the work truly share space with the viewer. I’m inspired by how many years and media Sánchez’s career has spanned while retaining a singular, authentic, innovative, and witty voice.

Matt Storm is a photo-based artist in Washington, DC, creating work about identity, using visual topics including self-portraiture, transgender and queer issues, family, and community. He serves as Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus of the Society for Photographic Education, and is a 2020 recipient of the Arts & Humanities Fellowship from Washington DC’s Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Deeply involved in DC’s transgender community, Storm also engages in transgender-related curating projects. Screen reader support enabled.

(LEFT) Zilia Sánchez, Maquinista, diptico (Machinist, diptych), 2008, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 62 x 13 5/8 x 6 in, each., The Phillips Collection, Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2016 (RIGHT) Matt Storm, Act of Looking II, 05, Going for It – In Space


Leigh Davis (@leighdavisprojects)

It’s been 10 years since I visited (and revisited) Franz Erhard Walther’s Work as Action at Dia Beacon. His thinking/making/process turned me upside down in the best way. As a spectator you must take part in his work in order to complete the aesthetic experience. These works require not only reception but participation. His works are unique opportunities to be more open, to trust, and to be present with others (strangers alike). When I create installations or site-based works I think of what I felt through his work; sharing in the process of art rather than its product.

Leigh Davis is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the intersection of culture, community, memory, and place. Her work has featured at Open Source Gallery and BRIC (Brooklyn), EFA Project Space (NYC), Oliver Art Center at CCA (Oakland), and MICA (Baltimore). Her recent project Inquiry into the ELE (2016-19) sponsored by NYFA, was exhibited at Vox Populi (Philadelphia), Smith Center, and Transformer (both DC) and she teaches at Parsons School of Design (NY).

(LEFT) Franz Erhard Walther, Roter Gesang (Red Song), 1984, Cotton, wood, each sculpture: 90 1/2 x 29 1/2 x 11 7/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Arthur and Carol Goldberg, 2013 (RIGHT) Leigh Davis, Secular Columbarium for the Island, Participatory Installation, 2011 Capitol Skyline Hotel, DC


Nancy Daly (@nancydaly)

The work I selected that relates to Papal Thrown is from a photographic series called “American Miniature,” which I completed in 2019 with Kim Llerena after a series of cross-country road trips. The series reveals an affinity for the kitsch that comes along with exploring roadside America. Souvenirs from various sites are presented against brightly colored backdrops. Souvenirs present a strange dichotomy—they are inherently and inextricably linked to a place, but their value relies on them becoming divorced from that place and re-contextualized in an entirely new one. Robert’s painting clearly relates compositionally and in her use of color but I also see connections between the work in terms of divorcing a loaded object from its context in the world and the kind of disembodied nostalgia this creates in a piece.

Nancy’s current body of work examines how the development of the online social world is affecting identity and social behavior. Nancy Daly is a graduate of the Photographic and Electronic Media MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives and works in Washington, DC, where she maintains an active studio practice, exhibiting nationally while also working as the Program Director for Hamiltonian Artists.

(LEFT) Julie Roberts, Papal Throne, 1998, Oil on acrylic ground on cotton duck, 36 x 36 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of the Tony Podesta Collection, 2014 (RIGHT) Nancy Daly, Third Man Records, Detroit, MI (matches)


Charles Jean-Pierre (@cjpgallery)

I was first introduced to Jacob Lawrence’s seminal work as a graduate student at Howard University. Later when I became an art teacher, The Phillips Collection became a vital resource for me to engage in discussions with my students about the mass movement of African Americans from rural southern towns to northern metropolises like DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York. Panel 1 resonates the most with me because it sets the stage for exploring the lasting cultural, political, and societal impact of my own migration story. Lawrence’s work inspired a series of my own entitled, “Future Memories: Exploring the Diasporic Imagination” to illustrate the rich tapestry of the contemporary Caribbean and Latin American migration experience.

The lines, spaces, and gaps in my work represent the absences felt growing up in an immigrant home. My practice recognizes the erasure of our complex histories and challenges the narrative that we are perpetual outsiders. My work attempts to create the informed cultural context needed to make sense of the American connection to the Caribbean, and vice versa.

(LEFT) Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 1: During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans.,1940-41, Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1942 (RIGHT) Charles Jean-Pierre, The Autobiography of My Mother


Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter (@gibsonhunterstudio)

I was a figurative artist until I hit a plateau. It was a place where the figure got in the way of my ideas. I had just had an exhibition titled Suspicious Activities, a series surrounding the war in Iraq in 2008. I had worked on Suspicious Activities for three years, absolutely compelled by my sense of fury surrounding the war in Iraq and the gentrification taking hold in my community. The figure began to betray me. I could not make it express the turmoil I was feeling. I felt that I was at some type of impasse. Mr Gilliam attended that exhibition. He asked me to return and review the exhibition with him, and he walked the exhibition with me asking questions, offering insights and encouraging words. He was nice enough to open his studio to me, share books, and discuss art with myself and other artists he took interest in. Over the years I have had the opportunity to watch his work progress, to see him continue to push himself to grow, and to observe his interactions with his staff. Mr. Gilliam is prolific, focused, and driven. To know him has been tremendously instructional.

Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter is a mixed media artist living in Washington, DC.

(LEFT) Sam Gilliam, Purple Antelope Space Squeeze, 1987, Diptych: Relief, etching, aquatint and collagraph on handmade paper with embossing, hand-painting and painted collage, 41 1/2 x 81 5/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Bequest of Marion F. and Norman W. Goldin, 2017 (RIGHT) Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter, Dawn


Tim Doud (@Tim.doud)

I’ve had an interest in George Braque since I was an undergrad. I like the use of flatness in his work and with a particular affinity for the way he flips the objects in space. It is unsettling. My work over the last few years has engaged collage—by making paintings of collaged images

Tim Doud is a multimedia artist with an emphasis on painting. He is the co-founder of STABLE in Washington, DC, and co-founder of the ‘sindikit project in Baltimore. Doud is a Professor at American University.

(LEFT) Georges Braque, The Round Table, 1929, Oil, sand and charcoal on canvas 57 3/8 x 44 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1934 (RIGHT) Tim Doud, CDGJWAT (Lt Blue) M

UMD and the Phillips: A Continuing Conversation

Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Lecturer, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland, shares insight on the value of the UMD and Phillips Collection partnership for her students.

Recently, the class I teach at the University of Maryland on art history and the museum world hosted a guest speaker from The Phillips Collection: Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenović. Although she had spoken to many students in earlier versions of this course, this was our first online meeting.

Within minutes, we moved to one of the most pressing issues of our moment: how do art institutions continue to function and communicate with the public in the age of “social distancing.” Students asked about programs that are being offered at present or contemplated for the future, giving a range of opinions on the subject. As Vesela shared her own perspective and ideas, she also set the tone for the online meeting I had scheduled for the following week, with education professionals from the Holocaust Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

As we learned, each of these institutions has its own approaches, means, and limitations in striving toward the shared goal—to continue engaging the public in meaningful ways in these strange times. Yet, even as we considered the growing role of digital media in art institutions, both in these circumstances and beyond, I was heartened by hearing that these students continue to value the “unmediated” experience no less than their older counterparts: whether a face-to-face conversation with a person or an opportunity to look at a work of art more closely.

Thanks to the partnership between the University of Maryland and The Phillips Collection, students from this school have had uncommonly rich opportunities for such experiences. As I think back to previous iterations of this course, I recall many other meetings with members of the staff of the Phillips—curators and conservators, education and development specialists—with deep appreciation.

Indeed, our very first session this semester was at the library with Karen Schneider, the Head Librarian and “memory keeper” who provided the class with an excellent overview of the history of this institution. The meeting was also intended as an introduction to a research project for which students would do case studies concerning the relationship of Duncan Phillips to a particular artist, or analyze his ideas about the visual arts as expressed in his numerous writings. Unfortunately, this will have to wait: too many resources, both books and primary sources, are simply inaccessible at present.

In our ongoing classes online, students often mention both that first visit, and the others we made between January and March, recalling how special it was to see rare drawings in the Print Study Room of the National Gallery of Art, discuss fine artefacts with curators at Dumbarton Oaks, or walk through the garden of that veritable “hidden jewel” of Washington on a brisk winter afternoon. They also remember our walk through the Music Room at the Phillips, our discussion of curatorial approaches in different spaces of the museum, the delicate works on paper by Klee, and the faint scent of honey in Wolfgang Laib’s Wax Room.

If anything, this period of “social isolation” has made them even more aware of the value of such experiences. As they have repeatedly noted, including during the conversation with Vesela, they can’t wait to return to the museums once they reopen. And hopefully, the next group of students will also be able to continue the research project I had envisioned, and use the library and the archives to learn more about all of the aspects that make The Phillips Collection so special.

In the meantime, on a recent afternoon, three students from the class met via Zoom to look at a painting from The Phillips Collection, Golden Storm (1925) by Arthur Dove. They had no prior knowledge of the work of art or the artist and agreed to share their impressions and observations as spontaneously as possible. My only instruction was that once they begin talking, they should take turns responding to the prompts or questions. The goal was to explore how much one can see within a work of art on a computer screen without background information, and how our perceptions change after we have that information. Throughout this 15 minute conversation, we looked only at the work of art, without being able to see each other’s reactions. This is the recording of the conversation.

STABLE x The Phillips Collection (Part II)

We’ve partnered with STABLE arts, a studio complex in DC that provides visual artists with an active workspace. STABLE artists picked a permanent collection artwork and explain how it intersects with their own practice. Visit the Phillips Instagram for more STABLE artwork.

Read Part I


Andy Yoder (@andyyoderart)

What draws me to Christenberry’s photographs of buildings is their lonely emptiness, and in this image the faded advertisements add a layer of nostalgia. I grew up in Ohio, and these remind me of the Mail Pouch Tobacco ads I used to see on barns. Buildings and shoes are extensions of the people who use them, a quality that deepens as they become worn. After combining words and images from recycled packaging with hundreds of sneakers, I appreciate the skill of the sign painters, scaling their work to fit the wall with graceful precision.

Born in Cleveland, Andy Yoder attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and Skowhegan. His work is in numerous public and private collections, and exhibitions include shows at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Queens Museum of Art, Winkleman Gallery in New York, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Commissions include works for ESPN, Continental Airlines, Progressive Insurance, David and Susan Rockefeller, and the Saatchi Collection.

(LEFT) William Christenberry, Wall of Building with 5 cent Signs, Demopolis, Alabama, 1976/printed 2000, Ektacolor print, 8 x 10 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Lee and Maria Friedlander, 2002 (RIGHT) Andy Yoder, Bruce Lee Jordan 5


Caitlin Teal Price (@caitlintealprice)

Loren MacIver’s painting spoke to me because of her depiction of light and energy. With paint she is able to render the glowing light that you would capture with a camera. As a trained photographer I have always been attracted to the magic of light. In my current work I photograph rays of sun light. I then use an x-acto blade to draw into a photograph by scraping away the emulsion one line at a time. This technique reveals the white paper underneath, giving the piece enhanced energy and glow, much liked the piece New York by MacIver.

Caitlin works with photography and drawing to explore themes of ritual and routine found in the undercurrents of everyday life. Her work is included in numerous collections and she has been published in New York Times, New Yorker, and Time among others. Caitlin is the co-Founder of STABLE.

(LEFT) Loren MacIver, New York, 1952, Oil on canvas, 45 1/4 x 74 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1953 (RIGHT) Caitlin Teal Price, Dark Prism, 2019, 58 x 40 in.


Stephen Benedicto (@stephenbenedicto)

I have always appreciated bilateral symmetry and the way it often seems to elicit the human body. There are certainly parallels between the strength, weight, and sensuous nature of Barbara Hepworth’s Dual Form and my own work. It’s a dynamic work that draws me in and makes me want to interact with the shadows, form, and complex quality of material. That sentiment is always with me when making work.

Stephen Benedicto is a fine artist based out of Washington, DC. His art has been featured in commercial estates in the DC metro area and been acquired into private collections around the nation. His works have also been shown at a satellite event in Miami during Art Basel, Hemphill gallery, and the STABLE gallery in DC. Whether carved by hand into plaster with steel-rigged drafting tools, plotted with CNC machines, or rendered in 3D software, his work utilizes diverse systems and tools to express the complex ideas of fetishism, transhumanism, and the design of the self.

(LEFT) Barbara Hepworth, Dual Form, 1965/cast 1966, Bronze, height: 72 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired with the Dreier Fund for Acquisitions and additional funds from Natalie R. Abrams, Alan and Irene Wurtzel, and a bequest from Nathan and Jeanette Miller, 2006 (RIGHT) Stephen Benedicto, The Radius, 2018


Tsedaye Makonnen (@tsedaye)

I chose Sam Gilliam because we are both Black artists based in DC and work in abstraction, however with different mediums. In this particular work his abstract acrylic painting is titled Mirror II, my recent abstracted light sculptures and textile works both use the material mirror acrylic. I’d like to think somehow through the use of the material mirror and the title mirror, our work is somehow a reflection of each other, literal and metaphorical… since Gilliam came before me and his work has influenced mine.

Primarily through sculpture and performance, my studio and research-based practice weaves together my identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a black American woman. I explore the blurring between and transience of borders and identities, often using my body as the conduit and the material. Further creating new visual language that portrays our geographic and ancestral connectivity across manufactured borders and circumstances. As of late, my work is an abstracted participatory intervention that is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for black lives.

(LEFT) Sam Gilliam, Mirror II, 1979, Acrylic on canvas 80 x 80 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Scott H. Lang, 1981 (RIGHT) Tsedaye Makonnen, Aberash: You Give Light (and performance)


Tori Ellison (

Over decades of museum and gallery visits, I keep coming back to Giacometti’s drawings and sculpture for inspiration. For this reason, I’ve chosen The Phillips Collection’s Giacometti Monumental Head. Giacometti carves, gouges, excoriates the surface, building and rebuilding the form to reveal an essence, an isolated psychic presence. The figure becomes less a portrait and more a totem, symbolic of the existential state of the human condition. In this series of my work, I’ve used the empty dress form to speak of the female body, returning repeatedly to see what it reveals to me. I relate to Giacometti in a kind of interiority expressed, a universal form utilized, and a psychological presence. It’s as if he’s looking inside the figure in sculpture. He said, “Photography, X-rays, and microscopes have allowed us to penetrate the secrets of matter [and] forced artists to paint something else, like their inner life.” At times I have worked with X rays to express the site of the body as ephemeral and connected to the natural world—here with the print Verso. I discuss my X ray art in Bettyann Kevles’s Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century, which became a TV documentary. I have also worked in stage and costume design, and I’m lately inspired by the Wolfgang Laib Wax Room and the Moira Dryer exhibition. Conceiving of the space of the body in new ways, through the stage, props, architecture, various enclosures intrigues me—these are new areas I’ve recently been exploring through installation. That said, The Phillips Collection, with works by Dove, Hartley, Ryder, Rothko, many others, has influenced me in so many ways—it’s very hard to limit it to just one artist to cite as most personally influential.

Tori Ellison, a MacDowell Fellow, School of Visual Arts MFA, NYC NEA finalist, and George Mason University art professor.

(LEFT) Alberto Giacometti, Monumental Head, 1960, Bronze 3/6 37 1/2 x 11 x 10 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1962 (RIGHT) Tori Ellison, Shell


Emily Francisco (

After losing his brother and father to the 1918 flu pandemic, Duncan Phillips acquired Burial of a Young Man. I first encountered Rockwell Kent’s somber funeral procession while working on Preliminary Deconstruction (or Preparing a Cenotaph), a durational performance about processing grief. Over a three-week period I carefully pulled apart an heirloom piano donated by the widow of its former owner. In exchange for the piano, small sculptures constructed from pieces of that piano were returned to the family. As we face a new global pandemic and uncertain future I am revisiting the intersection of these works and their relationship with how we process, share, and experience loss.

Emily Francisco is a sculptress specializing in the creation of interactive objects that generate sound. Born in Honolulu, raised in the lead belt, educated in Saint Louis and the District of Columbia—she exhibits work internationally and occasionally performs around Washington, DC.

(LEFT) Rockwell Kent, Burial of a Young Man, c. 1908-11, Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 52 1/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1918 (RIGHT) Emily Francisco, Preliminary Deconstruction (or Preparing a Cenotaph)


Gail Shaw-Clemons (@gshawclemons)

I was struck by J.D. Okhai Ojeikere’s portrait entitled Ife Bronze, an African photographer inspired by African hairstyles with references to the mask. Hairstyles found on masks continues today with black people all over the world even though many were taken away from their continent, country, and culture.

Gail Shaw-Clemons, born in Washington, DC, received her Master’s Degree in printmaking from the University of Maryland. She has exhibited extensively, with many works included in public and private collections in the US, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, China and Ireland. Shaw-Clemons is currently an adjunct professor at Bowie State University and is retired from the United Nations International School in New York.

(LEFT) J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Untitled (Ife Bronze), 1972, Gelatin silver print, The Phillips Collection, Gift of Julia J. Norrell, 2018 (RIGHT) Gail Shaw-Clemons, Mask 3, 2020, Lithograph transfer on gel medium, 14 x 11 in.


K. Lorraine Graham (@klorrainegraham)

Alfonso Ossorio created his 42 “Recovery Drawings” with markers and watercolor paper while in the hospital recovering from heart failure. I birthed my second child a few weeks ago, and the combination of pandemic time and newborn time has me considering, once again, the possibility of healing and reintegration inherent in every creative act—and what it means to make art under intense and shifting constraints. The Recovery Drawings remind me that limits can be be generative and that the wisdom gained from surviving trauma is potentially alchemical and transformative.

K. Lorraine Graham makes poems, drawings and sometimes performances. She is the author of The Rest Is Censored (Bloof Books) and Terminal Humming (Edge Books). From 2008-13 she curated the Agitprop Performance Series in San Diego and is also curator emerita of In Your Ear at the District of Columbia Arts Center. She works out of her post-studio in Stable Arts in Washington, DC, and writes about the arts and humanities for the University of Maryland, College Park.

(LEFT) Alfonso Ossorio, Recovery Drawings, Frontispiece, Book 1, 1989, Felt-tip watercolor marker on paper, The Phillips Collection, Gift of the Ossorio Foundation, 2008 (RIGHT) K. Lorraine Graham, Reality-Based Community

Stay tuned for Part III!