Staff Show 2016: Gloria Duan

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 19, 2016.

Gloria Duan, ~, Cyanotype on silk habotai with handrolled edges

Gloria Duan, “~”


Gloria Duan

Gloria Duan, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Gloria Duan, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Born on the first day of spring in the last hour of winter, in Amherst, Massachusetts, Gloria Duan is a 2015 BFA graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and a 2011 graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She is interested in establishing artistic, cultural, and philosophical significance for new innovations and discoveries in science and technology beyond their traditionally practical purposes. She currently lives in the Washington, DC metro area.

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

I work as a Museum Assistant. In the mornings before the museum opens to the public, I like to walk around the galleries and view the collection without another soul around!

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Milton Avery is my favorite artist in the collection. I appreciate his use of color and compositional directives. I see a subtle elegance in his hand similar to Giorgio Morandi. More specifically, in Morandi’s still life paintings and Avery’s late landscapes, there is “solid in void and void in solid” …in space vibrating with its own emptiness.

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

My favorite gallery within the Phillips is the first floor of the Sant Building. I think the high ceilings and windows makes the space especially suitable for displaying a wide range of artworks.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

The painting on display at the 2016 Staff Show is part of an ongoing series that, at a future date, will ideally be un-stretched and suspended in outer space, for the astro-viewer to float through and around as an immersive experience.

This series of paintings, its process, and ideal installation, aims to semantically describe mutable and ephemeral subjects, phenomena, and materials, through their un-guessed synchronicities. Topics include water, wind, shadow, light, glass, waves, pure energy, suspension, floating, and universal expansion. The circular silk cutout of this piece, and the Mobius forms seen in additional works from the series, are inspired by Robert Mangold’s “Ring” series. Morris Louis’ painting practice, in which he loosely tacked canvas to stretcher frames, informs the cyanotype coating process. Out of many light sensitive photo processes, the cyanotype was chosen for its Prussian hues. Quoting Goethe, “we love to contemplate blue not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.” The indexing of photograms includes hand-blown glass objects and their shadows, which channel, reflect, and block UV light. Finally, as mentioned before, my aim for this series is to bring painting into space, in order to conceptualize and advance the emerging genre of Space Art.

The 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 14 through September 19, 2016.

Staff Show 2015: Francesca Downs

In this series, Assistant to the Education Department Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through October 4, 2015.

Intergalactic Ode, August 2015, Acrylic on canvas

Intergalactic Ode, August 2015, Acrylic on canvas


(c) Francesca Downs

(c) Francesca Downs

A native of Washington, DC, Francesca graduated Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore with a Bachelor of Arts in 2011. After graduating, Francesca began taking courses toward a master’s degree in painting at George Washington University. Her artworks are heavily influenced by video games, comic books, and a variety of cartoons such as Arthur, Looney Toons, Dr. Katz, Bob’s Burgers, and King of the Hill. Francesca’s works are whimsical, flat, and combine representational and non-representational subjects. She transforms 3-dimensial objects into solid forms, where shapes and line dominate the space.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection?
I am currently a full-time Control Room Operator for our Security Department. I started out as a Museum Assistant in 2012 and had a brief stint as a part-time Museum Supervisor.

Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
During my control room shift, I play an integral role in helping facilitate art deliveries, controlling access to the museum buildings, and/or assisting visitors. Since nobody can physically see me, it’s almost like it’s happening with magic!

What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?
Joan Miro, Raoul Dufy and Morris Louis are a few of my favorite artists. During my first visit to The Phillips Collection, a Morris Louis show was on display and I fell in love his painting, Seal. My favorite gallery space is probably the larger of two galleries near the courtyard.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2014 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?
I have sort of been out of the painting and drawing game for about 3 years now. When I saw the 2015 Staff Show call for art, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to push myself and churn out a fun, little painting. I do not have a complicated process for creating my art, and most of the good stuff I’ve made was probably made under pressure. My work is fun, funny, or cute; otherwise I won’t do it. The piece I entered was just for fun, a way to dust off the old brushes, and warm up my dominant hand to prepare for new work in the near future. In 2015 (or early 2016), I’ll be launching a new website featuring my latest work.

The 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view September 2 through October 4, 2015. The show features artwork from The Phillips Collection staff. 

ArtGrams: Appreciating Morris Louis

Seal Morris Louis_2__samjang_

Via Instagrammer @_samjang_ #MorrisLouis #DC

This month’s ArtGrams features Morris Louis’s large-scale painting Seal (1959). Here are some of our favorite interactions with the work snapped by Instagrammers.

Seal Morris Louis_5_jonathanaustinart

Instagrammer @jonathanaustinart: “Checking out the masterpieces at The Phillips Collection. Best way to start my weekend. Morris Louis’s paintings.”

Seal Morris Louis_4_rareformproperties

We see some Louis reflections in this scarf! Shot by @rareformproperties.

Seal Morris Louis_6_belleauroradesigns

Thanks, @belleauroradesigns! “Love the @phillipscollection”

Seal Morris Louis_3_dannythimm

Black top / black jeans / black paint. Photo by @dannythimm

Seal Morris Louis_1_willballantynereid

Cropping just the corner and putting a tinted filter over Louis’s vibrant colors casts “Seal” in a new light. Photo by @willballantynereid