Playing Favorites: Bayan Yunis & Joel Daniel Phillips

We’ve asked FWMoA staff the hardest question you can ask art museum people: so, what is your favorite artwork currently on display? As “art museum people”, we often get asked about our favorite artists, artworks, and the art we choose to hang on our own walls. Since not all of our staff are front-end, and not all of them write for the blog, this series gives everyone a chance to get to know them, too. Taking advantage of our rotating exhibitions of artworks, from painted portraits to sculpted bronzes, FWMoA staff from all departments are choosing artworks that enthrall and enchant them; or, in other words, playing favorites.

FWMoA summer Education Intern Bayan Yunis stands in front of one of her awarded works in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

We assigned our summer Education Intern, Bayan Yunis, to roam the FWMoA galleries and find an artwork that spoke to her. A 2023 Scholastic Art Award recipient who recently graduated from Carroll High School, Bayan’s photography portfolio’s received Gold Keys at the regional level (Northeast IN & Northwest OH) and one, My Own Muse, was awarded a National Portfolio Award. Her keen eye spotted this work, by Joel Daniel Phillips:

A set of 31 black-and-white charcoal drawings
Joel Daniel Phillips, American, b. 1989. There Was Something Delicious in the Absurdity. Charcoal, graphite, and ink on paper, 2018. Museum purchase with funds provided by the June E. Enoch Collection Fund, 2019.77.1-31. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Q: What is the first thing you noticed about this artwork? What drew you to this particular piece?

A: The first thing that I noticed about this piece was the ominous video playing on the screen. What drew me to this piece was the inspiration for creating it.

Q: Would you hang this artwork in your home? Why or why not?

A: I personally would not hang this artwork in my home because it’s rather large and depressing.

Q: What does this artwork mean to you?

A: I’m fascinated by pieces that relate to the struggles of humanity. Learning that Phillips created this piece in response to the aftermath of the nuclear test in San Francisco added nuance to who, I interpreted, was an artist interested in atomic bombs themselves. This artwork inspired me to look more into the atrocity caused by the irradiation of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, thus fulfilling what I interpret as its purpose.

Growing up in an area near the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, he saw first hand how that nuclear test harmed the people he grew up around. In response to the aftermath, Phillips created this piece to present a part of the human experience.

I originally thought that the 21 prints were photographs, and was shocked to learn that they are charcoal, graphite, and ink drawings!

Q: Why did you choose to intern at an art museum?

A: I love anything and everything related to art. By working in an art museum, I am able to learn more about the ins and outs of how the museum works and what it takes to put these pieces into an exhibition.

Q: What has been your favorite exhibition at FWMoA during your internship?

A: My favorite exhibition is currently on display: Transformed Spaces: Art Beyond the Frame. The exhibition that I’m looking forward to is the upcoming Day of the Dead exhibition.

Q: What kind of art (if any) do you have in your home?

A: I like to collect work from artists selling their work on the streets. Other art that I have includes pieces I’ve traded during print swaps and art that friends have gifted me.

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