Staff Show 2017: Emily N. Rader

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 17, 2017.

Emily Rader, Double Take

Emily Rader

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I’m a Museum Assistant. When I first got the job, I was told it was 80% museum guard, 20% docent. This job requires spending your typical workday (8 hours) guarding a particular gallery space. It’s one of the best jobs any person in the arts can get coming out of college. You get a worm’s eye view of how art viewing works. You learn the audience’s knowledge levels, entry point to art, behavior patterns, values; and also, the way art is and behaves when it is placed outside of the studio and the history books.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

Honoré Daumier, Raoul Dufy, Joan Mitchell, William Christenberry, and Sarah Baker.

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

The Laib Wax Room is one of my favorite permanent installations, but I always look forward to seeing how the collection is rehung to see what “conversations” the works might have.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2017 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

Instant film cameras typically produce a single, one-off image, unlike most photographic processes; there is no difference between taking the picture and producing the print. Instant photography presents an interesting challenge. The closest relative of this variety of camera is the pinhole camera. These cameras lack the control methods that many photographers are used to. The instant camera, and the pinhole camera, require a much greater attention to light, movement, and composition.

Artist’s statement:

Engagement is very important to Art, after all, Art does not exist without being framed and acknowledged as such by the Viewer. Titles are very important to my work as they give the Viewer an entrance to the work, something they can grasp. This isn’t to say the title should tell the Viewer everything, but it should give the Viewer the ability to meet the Artist halfway. The other aspects of Art can also be read in a similar way to the title, and provide a similar entryway or conversation between. Art is not only communication or dialogue with the Artist but also the time it was created in, and the contemporary Viewer.


The 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 3 through September 17, 2017.

Women’s History Month: Hear Her Roar

Mitchell_August Rue Duguerre

Joan Mitchell, August, Rue Daguerre, 1957. Oil on canvas, 82 x 69 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1958; © Estate of Joan Mitchell

March may be coming to an end, but we are surely not ready to finish celebrating Women’s History Month just yet. Women artists have helped to propel contemporary art into the rich field it is today, so I thought it only right to dedicate this post to one of the female artists I find most fascinating from the Phillips’s permanent collection—Joan Mitchell (1925-1992).

Joan Mitchell, born in Chicago, was an essential member of the American Abstract Expressionist movement and an all around fierce character. Sitting pretty in the galleries is Joan Mitchell’s August, Rue Daguerre (1957), an energetic oil on canvas painting, which was inspired by a bustling Paris street. This work, with its rather violent brush strokes and rich colors, is representative of Joan’s work as she was inspired by lively friends (fellow artists de Kooning and Kline) and the cities she traveled between most, New York City and Paris. Having lived in a number of locations, Joan’s abstract paintings expressed her environment and her reaction to them.

I adore how in looking at this painting, one can begin to visualize what Joan was seeing both in her surroundings and how they affected her own psyche. The various shades of brown and black on the canvas could be illustrative of the statuesque Parisian architecture, but also might signify how Joan feels content and rooted in Paris. Perhaps the interspersed strokes of bright, yet subdued reds and blues express the unpredictable French citizens Joan passes daily along the winding streets. I think the magic of this emotive work and of abstract art as a whole is that it’s always up for interpretation.

August, Rue Daguerre (1957) is certainly one of my favorite paintings in the Phillips’s collection. I appreciate how Joan Mitchell was brave enough to express herself through abstract art, knowing critics and the public may never fully understand her vision… and personally, I think being brave is what being a woman is all about.

Aysia Woods, Marketing Intern