Fellow Spotlight: Arianna Adade

Meet our 2023-24 Phillips Collection Fellow Arianna Adade, a senior at Howard University. As part of the museum’s institutional values and commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, the yearlong Phillips Collection Fellowship encourages cross-departmental communication and cultivates audiences through authentic and critical programming and targeted affinity marketing.

Arianna Adade

Why are you interested in working at a museum?

I have always been fascinated with art as a non-artist, but I fell in love with studying it in high school after taking an art history course and realized my passion for museum work. To me, museums have the potential to reflect the history and beauty of humanity and transform the ways people think, feel, and learn. I’m excited about the prospect of working in art environments where I can facilitate promoting inclusivity and access to these crucial capsules of knowledge, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to freely explore what art means to them.

What brought you to The Phillips Collection?

I was first intrigued by The Phillips Collection after attending the artist talk with Dee Dwyer and Keyonna Jones earlier this year. To witness Black women occupying traditional museum spaces and sharing their stories was unique and made me feel a deep level of comfort.

Please tell us about the projects that you will be working on during your fellowship. What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?

As The Phillips Collection Fellow, I have the privilege of working with the Marketing & Communications and Community Engagement Departments. I will be collaborating with artists to engage audiences in multiple ways, allowing individuals to establish connections with art beyond the traditional gallery experience. As a philosophy and English major, I have been able to deepen my love for writing and combine it with art through blog posts and interviews to digitally engage with audiences. I have also collaborated with partner organizations such as the Nicholson Project and the DC Public Library to foster the Phillips’s mission of artistic outreach and inclusion. My involvement with The Phillips Collection, THEARC, and affiliated organizations has truly positioned me as a link between the art realm and the DC community, which has felt very fulfilling. 

What is your favorite painting/artist here?

This is a hard one, but I am particularly drawn to A Girl in Red (Portrait of Gladys Ankora, Achimota) by Grace Salome Kwami, which is currently on view in African Modernism in America, 1947-67. I am half-Ghanaian and very connected to my heritage, so it was truly special to see a portrait by another Ghanaian woman from my family’s hometown that beautifully reflected a significant part of my identity.

If you were to describe the Phillips in one word, what would that word be?


What is a fun fact about you?

I have lived in three countries!

Ellsworth Kelly Sculpture Conservation Treatment

Head Conservator Elizabeth Steele on the 8-month long conservation treatment of Ellsworth Kelly’s Untitled (EK927).

In 2005, to commemorate the opening of the new courtyard at The Phillips Collection, the museum commissioned Ellsworth Kelly to create a site-specific sculpture for its west wall, made possible through the generosity of Phillips Trustee the late Margaret Stuart Hunter. Untitled (EK927) is a large-scale bronze composed of two flat planes that are semi-circular, joined so that one lies parallel to the wall and the other juts forward in a V-shape. It reflects the artist’s enduring interest in reductive abstract shapes drawn from nature and architecture. Kelly oversaw its installation in 2006, deliberately choosing to mount the 1,500-pound sculpture at an angle, making the sculpture seem to defy gravity.

As with all outdoor sculptures, conservation treatments are periodically needed to maintain the work’s intended surface appearance after exposure to nature’s elements that slowly erode applied coatings and patinas over time. Strong sunlight, heat, humidity, freezing temperatures, snow, pollen, and other abrasive airborne particulates, in addition to scratches and rubs acquired over the years, caused the clear lacquer coating on Untitled (EK927) to cloud and the black patina to degrade.

On the advice of sculpture conservators, the Phillips decided to remove the deteriorated surface coating and patina and reapply a new black matte patina. Instead of reapplying a lacquer to protect the patina, the final surface coating of the sculpture is achieved with numerous applications of wax. A custom formulation of Treewax tinted with black pigments was created to maintain the flat matte black appearance desired by Kelly. We are grateful to the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for underwriting the large-scale conservation treatment to restore this magnificent sculpture to its intended appearance.

In November 2022, a team of skilled art handlers painstakingly removed the sculpture from the courtyard wall, where it has hung for the past 16 years. Many of the same individuals involved with its initial installation were present. It was taken to ASCo in Manassas, Virginia, which specializes in refinishing outdoor sculptures. After the deteriorated surface was removed, the firm Bronze et al, Ltd reapplied a new patina. The sculpture was then reinstalled June 2023 by the same team of seasoned art handlers. The conservation department will continue to monitor the sculpture, washing it several times a year to remove any accretions and reapplying wax as needed to maintain the artist’s desired surface.

2023 CARD Fellow: Tina Villadolid

The Phillips Collection is proud to announce our inaugural cohort for the CARD Fellowship, a collaboration between the Phillips, the Nicholson Project, and the DC Public Library to support the local art community. Meet artist Tina Villadolid, a multimedia artist from New York.

CARD Fellow Tina Villadolid

Could you tell us a little bit about your artistic background and journey so far?

I returned to graduate school after being a teaching artist for 23 years at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I brought the art museum into neighborhoods guerrilla style, eventually teaching the children of former students. Working with the marginalized generations of a wealthy community threw into question my own life’s relationships to systemic power hierarchies. It was time to return to myself, and my practice had to change. It became a reclamation of my inheritance as a Filipina American.

Researching trails of current US policy that began with the violent conquest of the Philippines 125 years ago begs a very personal reckoning with the duality of my identity. For reconciliation, I deploy what I call “ritual interventions.” Installation and action-based, site-specific and temporal, they re-embody memory of Philippine histories buried in plain sight in Washington, DC. At play with materials such as banana leaves, rice, and spray paint, I nod to my ancestors while challenging regimes of value. This memory work resists systemic erasure and invites collective healing in public spaces.

What are your ambitions and aspirations as an artist, and how do you think the fellowship can support you in achieving them?

Reclamation as a creative practice fosters conversation that is healing. An entry point for positive change, I want to keep exploring how expansive it can become. I hope to build relationships of reciprocity with collaborators and with communities through my work. The CARD Fellowship will greatly assist in this exploration while helping me to build relationships within the DC arts community.

Tina Villadolid, Lola Legacies, remnant of the colonizer’s canvas, threads pulled from canvas, ebony pencil, rustoleum spray paint, tacks, 16 x 16 in.

How do you envision your art positively impacting the community?

The more I share my work, the more I wonder who else needs to see it. So much of my practice is done in isolation, so when the work sparks dialogues, it is incredibly meaningful. I find that my work is relevant not just for Filipinos, but for many who are questioning the way the United States teaches and remembers its own history. I would like my work to help broaden the scope of these dialogues and their relevance. In turn, it can manifest healing and agency for growth.

Which artist inspires you and has influenced your artistic journey so far?

Simone Leigh’s powerful and regal auto-ethnographic sculptures inspired me to focus the lens of my work on my own identity. I center the Filipina by reimagining an iconography of matrilineal ancestors. Female shamans were the leaders of communities on the archipelago now known as the Philippines, until conquest drove a violent shift to patriarchy. Using photographs of myself and my lolas (grandmothers), different forms of illumination, and soft and organic materials, I regenerate my lineage of the fierce feminine.

Tina Villadolid, detail from I Am an Archipelago, muslin, rustoleum spray paint, rice, preserved banana leaves, 13 x 12 x 4 ft.