Volunteer Spotlight: Stanley C. Foster

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs 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.

Stanley C. Foster, Art Information Volunteer


Stanley C. Foster

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
Stanley Foster: 2015

What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
SF: Interacting with the public. Providing them with an overview of the museum and the artworks and Duncan Phillips’s vision. Also discovering interesting information about the visitors, including where they come from and what attracted them to the Phillips.

What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Philips Collection?
SF: I volunteer as a tour guide at the Kennedy Center. I also audit an undergraduate courses at Georgetown University with my wife.

What is your favorite room or painting at the Phillips?
SF: Difficult question since it depends on the day and the weather.

If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?
SF: Intimate.

Share a fun fact about you!
SF: I graduated from the same magnet high school in Philadelphia, Central High School, that John Sloan, William Glackens, Thomas Eakins, and Alfred Barnes attended. Sloan, Glackens, and Barnes were at Central High at the same time in the 1890s. Eakins had graduated earlier. Sloan and Glackens became a part of the Ashcan School, an artistic movement in New York City in the early 1900s depicting ordinary life. Barnes founded the Barnes Foundation, a private museum in Philadelphia, and was a collector competing with Duncan Phillips. As a senior at Central High, I wrote an article for the school magazine, The Mirror, about Sloan, Glackens, and the Ashcan School. It was nostalgic for me to see Sloan’s The Wake of the Ferry II and Glackens’s Bathers at Bellport recently hanging in adjoining rooms at The Phillips Collection.

When Art Becomes Yoga

What happens when we enter into an art room? I am not just talking about a gallery in a museum where there are various works on the walls, but rather a room that in itself becomes the work. A room in which when we enter, time seems to stop, all of our senses are expanded to their edge, and we take a minute to reflect. How do we get this meditative experience from art?

There are a couple of spaces like this in the Phillips: the Rothko Room and the Laib Wax Room. Maybe it is because of my roots in yoga, but these meditative spaces continue to be my favorite to frequent. I still remember the first time I stepped into each of them. Somehow, everything became clear to me, yet nothing made sense. This feeling never goes away, no matter how many times I enter and exit. Part of me feels trapped in this time and space, yet I am perfectly comfortable being there. I feel so comfortable because the art supports me. As I slowly drift into my own thoughts, the art is a crutch that remains a constant focal point for what I am experiencing.

These spaces achieve this in a different way:

Rothko provides a variety of images to rest the eyes on, allowing the viewer the ability to take a closer look inward. In yoga instructor terms, this is called “holding the space,” when a teacher creates a safe space for participants to relax fully.


The Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Benjamin Resine

Laib does the meditation for you. When one enters his room, the surrounding hue of gold and sweet but subtle smell of wax mutes your senses, and your thoughts soon follow. This creates a buzz of relaxation and meditation that makes the space so pleasing.


The Laib Wax Room at The Phillips Collection

This experience looks different to every visitor. Just like every yogi needs and takes something different from the practice, each visitor is in need of something different when they come to these rooms. They allow for viewers to engage with art in a way that is deeply personal and that is just as beautiful as the art itself.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern


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.

Miriam Deaver, "Bad (He)art"

Miriam Deaver, clips from “Bad (He)art” video


Miriam Deaver

Miriam Deaver, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Miriam Deaver, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

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 am an Education Coordinator; I get to book all of the tours!

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Henri Matisse.

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

The Rothko Room and the Music Room.

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

The performance work I submitted is the act of me destroying a sculpture, made by my ex-boyfriend and owned by my roommate. I had exhibited the sculpture in a show I curated and it was purchased by my roommate and left in our garage. The video is an act of raw catharsis directly following the breakup between me and the sculpture’s creator. There was no plan or thought process, just pure emotion. Splicing together the videos of this experience and layering with music has been a continued process of letting go.


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