The Phillips Collection and Washington Sculptors Group Presents What a Relief: small relief sculptures at Phillips@THEARC

By Editorial Team on January 10, 2022

Fri, 11 February 2022 - Fri, 18 March 2022

Top left to right: Alonzo Davis, Microclimate VI, 2021, Mix media, surf sail fragment with bamboo on cradled board, 14 x 13 x 4 in., Courtesy of the artist. Christopher Romer, Hunters Moon over Silver Lake, 2021, North American woods, household enamel paints, hardware and sand, 16 x 16 x 12 in., Courtesy of the artist.
Bottom left to right: Chee Keong Kung, Slow Light X, 2021, Wood, metal, gesso, acrylic, graphite, and color pencil, 8 ½ x 14 x 3 in., Courtesy of the artist. Gail Shaw-Clemons, I’m Done #1, 2021, Charbonnel Aqua Wash Etching ink on 100% rag paper, 15 x 11 in., Courtesy of the artist.
The exhibition will be viewable in-person February 11.
An online version of the exhibition is available as of January 24 and viewable HERE


What a Relief: small relief sculptures is a juried exhibition of relief sculptures organized by The Phillips Collection and Washington Sculptors Group (WSG), and presented at Phillips@THEARC. WSG is a nonprofit that promotes awareness and understanding of sculpture by organizing exhibitions and events that are free to the public. The artists-members of WSG were invited to submit works that engage and expand upon the tradition of relief sculpture in contemporary terms. From over 80 entries, two jurors from The Phillips Collection—Nehemiah Dixon III, Director of Community Engagement, and Vesela Sretenović, Cross-departmental Director of Contemporary Art Initiatives and Partnerships—have selected 40 works by 37 artists ranging from age 15–81 to be presented at Phillips@THEARC from January 11 to March 18, 2022.



  • David Alfuth
  • Sondra N. Arkin
  • c.l. bigelow
  • Janet Brome
  • Sally Canzoneri
  • Christopher Corson
  • Tory Cowles
  • Patrick Craig
  • Alonzo Davis
  • Gayle Friedman
  • Jack Gans
  • Marilyn Geldzahler
  • Joanne Kent
  • Wanjin Kim
  • Chee-Keong Kung
  • Elaine Langerman
  • Heidi Lippman
  • Ruth Lozner
  • Dalya Luttwak
  • Nicole Maloof
  • Sharon Pierce McCullough
  • Kass McGowan
  • Kristina Penhoet
  • Ana Rendich
  • Marc Robarge
  • Brendan Robinson
  • Christopher Romer
  • Jean Sausele-Knodt
  • Gail Shaw-Clemons
  • Tatyana Shramko
  • Lynda Smith-Bugge
  • Ann Standrod
  • Michael Stewart
  • Steve Wanna
  • Cindy Winnick
  • Janet Wittenberg
  • Jenny Wu

Phillips@THEARC is The Phillips Collection’s satellite campus, consisting of a workshop space and gallery, in Southeast DC. It is a part of Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), a community space that brings families east of the Anacostia River world-class services through its resident partners.

“Reopening our doors at THEARC is a wonderful start to the new year, and another way to include our Southeast DC community in our centennial celebrations. During the pandemic, we have stayed connected with our Ward 8 community through our Wellness Kits program and other outreach initiatives,” says Vradenburg Director and CEO of The Phillips Collection Dr. Dorothy Kosinski. “But nothing matches the enrichment of coming together in person, especially around the work of local artists.”

The word relief comes from the Latin verb relivare, to raise, implying that the sculpted material has been raised above its supporting background. From ancient Egyptian tombs to Greek and Roman temples to modern sculptural expressions, reliefs have been used around the world. Whether executed in low or high relief, telling a story, or created for decorative purposes, the technique presents unique challenges as it combines two- and three-dimensional forms.

“Playing with the double meaning of relief as an artistic form and also a sense of comfort or release, What a Relief presents works that reimagine and enliven this centuries-long art practice through various conceptual and aesthetic approaches,” notes Sretenović.

Dixon explains why the Phillips chose Washington Sculptors Group as a partner: “There’s a real sense of community with WSG, sculptors with a rolling membership seeking to support each other and display good art. The works in this exhibition defy gravity, as the artists experiment in unique ways with escaping the two-dimensional plane. We are thrilled to be able to showcase these mostly emerging and mid-career artists in our gallery space at Phillips@THEARC.”

“WSG is excited to partner with the Phillips@THEARC on this exhibition, as we’ve been wanting to work together for some time. We’re looking forward to the exhibition and hope it’s the first of many future collaborations,” says Washington Sculptors Group Exhibition Chair Steve Wanna.

An opening reception featuring Sretenović and Dixon in conversation is planned; details are forthcoming.

Phillips@THEARC had to close its doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Phillips began creating wellness kits (including hand sanitizer, masks, art activities, and more), and has since distributed over 3,000 kits to the families of Ward 8. Over the past year, The Phillips Collection has also hosted virtual workshops and participated in pop-ups, allowing the museum to remain engaged with the Ward 8 community.

The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st Street NW.