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 (www.toriellison.com)

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 (@emily.is.magic)

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!

STABLE x The Phillips Collection (Part I)

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.

 

linn meyers (@linnmeyers)

I’ve always loved Ryder’s paintings for their moodiness and surface qualities. This image resonated with me decades ago as a college student, and also later when I was in graduate school, when I was making imagined landscapes. The description in the museum’s catalogue addresses the painting’s “theme of supernatural intervention in human events and man’s helplessness in his mortal confrontation with such forces…” Given the tumultuous times we are living in today, the painting takes on new meaning for me. Who isn’t feeling a little (or a lot) helpless these days? Chaos abounds, loss of control is inevitable, and turmoil surrounds us. I continue to explore those themes in my paintings and works on paper.

linn meyers’s paintings, drawings, and site-specific works have been shown in public and private venues, including The Phillips Collection, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA, The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, Japan, The Corcoran Museum of Art, and more.

(LEFT) Albert Pinkham Ryder, Macbeth and the Witches, after mid-1890s, Oil on canvas, 28 1/4 x 35 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1940 (RIGHT) linn meyers, Untitled, 2019, 11 x 8.5 in., Acrylic ink on found graph paper

 

Mojdeh Rezaeipour (@mojdehr)

I’ve been working in blue a lot this past year, so I decided to choose a blue work at random! I double clicked on a link and this piece popped up—sort of like pulling a tarot card. The series “Unanswered Prayers” imagines a space that is bit by bit flooded with water, as various creatures make their way in and out of the scenes. Atmospherically, it feels like both reality and fantasy, nightmare and dream. My altar installations hold a similar space between dualities of grief and joy, destruction and creation, trauma and healing. They are simultaneously poems, prayers, puzzles.

Mojdeh Rezaeipour is an Iranian-American artist and storyteller based in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she studied architecture with a minor in art history, and a graduate of alt*div, an alternative divinity school centering the intersection of justice and art as spiritual practice. She is currently quarantined as an artist in residence at The Nicholson Project.

(LEFT) Anna Paola Pizzocaro, Behind the Mirror from “Unanswered Prayers” (Dall’ altra parte dello Specchio), 2010-2011, Monorail view camera and Photoshop, 47 1/4 x 37 5/8 x 1 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of the artist, courtesy of Embassy of Italy Washington DC, 2014 (RIGHT) Mojdeh Rezaeipour, Welcoming Us

 

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann (@ktzulan)

I first began pouring paint because my teacher, the force of nature and Abstract Expressionist Grace Hartigan, encouraged me to look at Color School painters like Morris Louis. At a time when we yearn for solidity and control, Louis’s work reminds us that solidity is never to be expected, and shows us the grace and poetry in fluidity and flux. This piece, created by pouring diluted paints onto canvas, is 8.5 x 12 feet, making the experience of viewing it immersive and almost cinematic. Influenced by him, other pour painters like Helen Frankenthaler, and traditional Chinese sumi ink painting, I begin every work of mine by pouring diluted paint and ink onto paper as it lays on the floor of the studio.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann is a painter based in Washington, DC. Her large paper paintings and installations address themes of chance, environment, mythology and identity by creating hybridized, semi-abstract landscapes. Some of the venues where Mann has shown her work include the Walters Art Museum, American University Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Rawls Museum, the Art Museum at SUNY Potsdam, the US consulate in Dubai, UAE, and the US embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon.

(LEFT) Morris Louis, Seal, 1959, Acrylic on canvas, 101 1/8 x 140 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Marcella Brenner Revocable Trust, 2011 (RIGHT) Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Wrap

 

Nekisha Durrett (@nekishadurrett)

I first saw Vik Muniz’s work in the 1990s while I was in art school. I was particularly struck by “Sugar Children”—a series of black-and-white images of black children that, from a distance, I mistook as snapshots. As I moved closer, I began to perceive texture varying accumulations of tiny grains against a black ground. A quick read of the label revealed that these were photographs of renderings of children made with sugar. A deeper read revealed that these were portraits of the children and grandchildren of sugar plantation laborers. This tension that Muniz builds between the idea, the materials used, and the viewer’s physical and psychological perspective is something that has stayed with me. Years later, I saw a short video of Muniz working in his studio. For a split second, I could see him on the floor carefully placing a butterfly with a pair of tweezers onto a lush bed of green plants and flowers. The camera panned out to reveal that this seemingly random arrangement of flowers made up the stars and bars of the American flag. That transformative moment when a small shift in perspective can make visible what is hiding in plain sight is so powerful. It is the thread that weaves through most art that I am drawn to. As I often work in disparate materials and themes, it is my hope that it is one of the threads that creates continuity within my body of work.

Nekisha Durrett lives and works in Washington, DC, where she creates bold and playful large scale installations and public art that aim to make the ordinary enchanting and awe inspiring while summoning subject matter that is often hidden from plain sight. She earned her BFA at The Cooper Union in New York City and MFA from The University of Michigan School of Art. Durrett has exhibited her work throughout the Washington, DC area and nationally.

(LEFT) Vik Muniz, American Flag (from “America Now + Here: Photography Portfolio 2009”), 2009, Digital c-print, 20 x 24 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Carolyn Alper, 2010 (RIGHT) Nekisha Durrett, Yes Lawd

 

Shaunté Gates (@studio.gates)

Escaping repression in search of social mobility, my family migrated from South Carolina to DC post WWII, to find themselves entrenched in a new set of social challenges. My artwork and life are interestingly a continuation of Lawrence’s Migration Series as a whole, but particularly Panel no. 3 (contextually). How did their lives look post migration? At the crux of my work, an individual is either trying to find a way to the center or their way out of a labyrinth of social constructs. They are works about self-determination and resilience; akin to The Migration Series.

Shaunté Gates was born June 13, 1979, in Washington, DC, where he began his formal art career while studying at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. His formative years raised in a wild yet, paradoxically, beautiful DC during the eighties and nineties, created complex memories that would supply the energy and settings for his paintings and video pieces, to date. Gates is currently exhibiting works with the Smithsonian as part of a three-year traveling exhibit titled Men Of Change.

(LEFT) Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 3: From every southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north., 1940-41, Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1942 (RIGHT) Shaunté Gates, Dope Effect: Reagan 88

 

Matthew Mann (@metamuslix)

I first met this painting in the early 2000s when it was hanging near the stairs in the music room. In the 20 or so years since, I think about it maybe once a month and have stolen little bits out of it to apply to my own work almost as often. Braque to me affirms the infinite possibilities in painting and what Terry Winters says about painting being an incredibly absorbent technology. I mean, just look at all the visual material and disjointed space that Braque piled into The Washstand! The faux finished window sill, that green, bean shaped stool at the bottom, that line running through the pitcher from that trapezoidal shape stuck to the top edge…just…what?! It’s as if Braque is saying: “Psst, hey buddy! What are you worried about? It’s just painting. You can do whatever you can think to do. It will all fit.”

Matthew Mann is a painter based in Washington, DC. His paintings take inspiration from a range of visual media: quatrocento frescos, architecture, cartoons, heist films, and cultural ephemera. In Mann’s paintings these subjects flit around each other creating humorous juxtapositions and spatial incongruities that reflect his own interests in free association as well as his experiences as an artist and citizen.

(LEFT) Georges Braque, The Washstand, 1944, Oil on canvas, 63 7/8 x 25 1/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1948 (RIGHT) Matthew Mann, Condessa Courtyard, 2018

 

Damon Arhos (@damonarhos)

I chose this Francis Bacon painting Study of Figure in a Landscape because it both exemplifies and subverts the artist’s tumultuous character. Dark, vulnerable, and naked, the figure demonstrates agitation and gravity—yet, its surroundings suggest dreamlike serenity. I appreciate this duality in the composition as well as the contrast of its painterly and photographic styles. Bacon’s work aligns with mine in its concurrent presentation of conflicting visuals and narratives, those that many find concurrently attractive and disturbing.

Damon Arhos is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and social activist whose work explores and unfolds queer culture. Arhos seeks to promote love and acceptance while investigating social and political environments surrounding gender and sexuality. Arhos, who teaches studio art and art history at Bowie State University, earned an MFA in studio art at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore

(LEFT) Francis Bacon, Study of Figure in a Landscape, 1952, Oil on canvas 78 x 54 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1955 (RIGHT) Damon Arhos, If I Am Myself, Then Will I Be A Target? (Self-Portrait)

 

Molly Springfield (@mollyrspring)

I love the work of Dada artists—Kurt Schwitters’s collages in particular—and their use of fragmented and decontextualized language has influenced my own work. Like many of his contemporaries, Schwitters was reacting to the horrors of World War I and its resulting cultural shifts. My current project, Holograph Draft, is inspired by the life and writing of Virginia Woolf, whose work also responded to the turmoil of the early twentieth century. In addition to text-based drawings, my project includes collages made from photocopies of Woolf’s family photo albums, which in turn have inspired a new series of abstract drawings. As the project evolves, it’s become a way for me to reflect on the turmoil of our own moment and how I can best respond to it—both as an artist and as a responsible citizen of a society in the midst of a very different kind of world war.

Molly Springfield is a Washington, DC-based artist who makes drawings that use photocopies of printed text as their source material. Her work has been the subject of fourteen national and international solo exhibitions and is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is featured in the new book, You Are An Artist by Sarah Urist Green, released on April 14 by Penguin Books.

(LEFT) Kurt Schwitters, Radiating World (Merzbild 31B), 1920, Oil and paper collage on cardboard, 37 1/2 x 26 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift from the estate of Katherine S. Dreier, 1953 (RIGHT) Molly Springfield, Monk’s House Album III

Prism.K12: Creativity and Curriculum

Hilary Katz, Manager of Teacher initiatives, shares insights on the arts integration course offered by the University of Maryland and The Phillips Collection. “Connecting to the Core Curriculum” provides PreK-12 educators with the opportunity to blend the visual arts seamlessly into the core curriculum, using the Phillips’s Prism.K12 arts integration strategies and resources. 

“This course allowed me to step back and evaluate how I use art in my classroom and gave me different perspectives on WHY I should be using art that I had not considered before.”-Teacher-participant

From October 2019 through February 2020, teachers from across DC and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties participated in the Connecting to the Core Curriculum arts integration course. I co-taught this hybrid-learning course with Kenna Hernly, PhD Candidate in Museum Education at University of Maryland. We worked with educators teaching grades PreK to 12, and subjects ranging from dance, music, English, and history to art, ceramics, math, and robotics. A teacher-participant reflected, “Taking this course with teachers from different kinds of schools and grade levels gave me new ideas and perspectives about teaching, and now we have a collection of shared lessons I can use. It also helped challenge me to try out new ideas with my students and take risks.”

Teachers engage in group discussions about strategies for developing arts integration lesson plans. Photo: Travis Houze

Throughout the course, the educators learned and practiced techniques for integrating the arts into the curriculum to reach students with multiple learning styles. To dive deeper into a particular subject area, the educators engaged in several art techniques, including stop motion animation and contour line drawings.

Participants learn about the art of Los Carpinteros in the galleries. Photo: Travis Houze

Participants execute contour line drawings based on the artwork of Los Carpinteros. Photo: Travis Houze

Art and Ceramics teacher Christina Kunze then taught her high school students how to make contour line sculptures of their own heroes and revolutionaries, teaching students how to empathize with their subjects and express their choices. Photo: Michael McSorley

As the culminating project for the course, the educators designed and facilitated arts-integrated lessons in their classrooms using the Prism.K12 strategies and artwork from The Phillips Collection. Many of them collaborated with other teachers at their schools to integrate multiple subject areas. Discover the results in the exhibition Energizing Education: Teaching through the PRISM of Arts Integration.

Teacher participants learn how to use stop-motion animation to link the visual arts with core curriculum subjects. Photos: Travis Houze

Teacher participants learn how to use stop-motion animation to link the visual arts with core curriculum subjects. Photo: Travis Houze

Teacher participants learn how to use stop-motion animation to link the visual arts with core curriculum subjects. Photo: Travis Houze

The participants then taught their students how to synthesize math equations using stop-motion animation by re-creating artworks by John Graham in the Phillips’s collection. Photo: Nicole Entwistle

Moving forward, we plan to continue to offer this arts integration course for local and regional teachers. As a result of participating in this course, a teacher described the benefits experienced by her students: “joy and wonder of the creation process, less anxiety while solving math problems,” demonstrating the potential of arts integration to break down barriers in the classroom and open up new avenues for creation. 

Read about the course from a teacher’s perspective here