Volunteer Spotlight: Mallory Verez

In this series, Education Specialist Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. Phillips volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concerts, assisting patrons in the library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Mallory Verez, Art Information Volunteer

Mallory Verez

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

I started volunteering in June 2017.


What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?

I want each visitor to be able to leave with something, be that a newfound appreciation or knowledge. Sharing the history of The Phillips Collection and leading visitors to pieces they might like is so exciting. My favorite part is when visitors share their perspectives and understanding with me in return.

What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

I’m a full time undergraduate student, studying psychology, and an intern at Joy of Motion Dance Center, a non-profit organization devoted to making dance education and performance available to everyone. Being a part of that organization has been nothing short of incredible.

What is your favorite room or painting here?

My favorite room is easily the Rothko room; I feel like I could spend hours in there. My favorite pieces right now are any by Willem De Kooning.

If you had to choose one word to describe the Phillips, what would it be?


Share a fun fact about you!

I recently got a shepherd-husky mix puppy, an absolute treasure, whom I named Mojo. She enjoys invading personal space and looking at herself in the mirror.


Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am eternally grateful to The Phillips Collection for letting me spend time engaging with visitors and the art, and for opening my eyes to the possibility of a future in museum work.

Code, Choreography, and Georgia O’Keeffe

CityDance artist Sarah J. Ewing guest blogs about her upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired performance at the Phillips on May 12.

choreography code 3_sjewingdc

Rehearsal for the upcoming performance

Through the process of making Analog O’Keeffe with the CityDance Conservatory Dancers, I have kept coming back to the word “audacity,” and more specifically: the audacity of choice. That word and that drive has been the starting point of the choreography, and is what attracts me to Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. I am not particularly rebellious in my life or in my work, but I do aim to be audacious.

OKeeffe_Pattern of Leaves

Georgia O’Keeffe, Pattern of Leaves, 1923. Oil on canvas, 22 1/8 x 18 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1926 © 2008 The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The creation of contemporary dance is a constant decision making process, and one that really doesn’t carry a rule book of what is right or wrong. You have to walk bravely into the unknown when you make a new work and never let the fear or uncertainty of that process hold you back. To have the audacity to create what you want to see in the world—I hope that the young dancers in this piece walk away from this process with a taste of just how powerful of a notion that is.

I also love computer code, the automation of workflows and the beautiful logic that runs databases and websites. It is everything that dance isn’t; reliable, consistent, and permanent—and yet, for me, the process of creating a dance piece and designing a database are the same. The goal is to hold as much information as possible inside a structured design so that the audience, or the end user, can obtain the information that they need to access.

Choreography is made rich by the use and manipulation of time, space, and energy. In a database, these elements would be the tables that hold records which individually don’t say much, but when put with other records, can tell the history of one dancer’s training for the past 10 years. You can see that training when you watch them perform through their skill and technique, or you can pull a report from the database and make a pivot table. We all like to receive information in different ways; for this project I chose to combine my two favorite ways into one.

We are using Xbox Kinect sensors to track the dancers movements, and then using this data to manipulate my animations that are programmed in Quartz Composer. These will be projected during the performance, allowing the dancers to create the entire environment of their performance based on their own choices in movement. That brings us back to audacity—and the power that free choice gives us. I hope the audience sees a little O’Keeffe in the show, and also a little of the students themselves—both inspire me every day.

Sarah J. Ewing, CityDance Ignite artist

Nicole Libeler side by side

Photos: Nicole Libeler

Some Assembly Required

In anticipation of Thursday’s interactive tour of the Per Kirkeby exhibition by Pittsburgh’s Attack Theatre, Artistic Director Michele de la Reza breaks down her performance group’s innovative method of combining dance, music, and the visual arts, which they call “Some Assembly Required.” See Attack Theatre in action Thursday night, or if you’re an art educator, participate in tomorrow evening’s Teaching Per Kirkeby Teacher Program (registration still available). 

Attack Theatre’s “The Score”

Attack Theatre’s “The Score”

Some Assembly Required is a process/performance that engages the audience with dialogue, performance, and improvisation inspired by works of visual art. With a devotion to the transparency of the artistic process, Some Assembly Required offers audiences a new way to engage with visual art and a new lens through which to experience dance and live music.

So, just how does this process work? Well, like many great works of art, we start with a blank canvas. For Some Assembly Required, we call this canvas the “score.” The score is essentially a road map for our dancers onto which we will add improvisations throughout the performance. It works similarly to the musical notation that guides a musician.

We will transform your comments during a facilitated discussion of artworks in Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Sculpture into music and movement, inserting and overlaying these improvisations into our blank canvas. We will create a unique performance using your ideas to add new layers of emotion, intent, and color, passion and complexity, and ultimately to create a new work of art together.

Use this image of the score to see if you can pick out the different and distinct phrases of the performance in the video below. This video is from our recent performance of Some Assembly Required: Public, when the artworks in the process were public artworks throughout our home city of Pittsburgh.

Check out just one example of an improvisation in the video below from one of our rehearsals where Peter Kope, my co-Artistic Director, asks the dancers and musicians to create an improvisation based on the idea of “armless.”

Michele de la Reza, artistic director, Attack Theatre