Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — The Phillips Collection presents Soundwaves by Baltimore-based artist Linling Lu, the first project in 2023 of the museum’s ongoing Intersections contemporary art series. On view from February 9–April 30, 2023Soundwaves features Lu’s signature works of abstract paintings with concentric rings of bright, pulsating colors. Ranging in scale from small to human-size, the circular canvases (tondos), are equally hypnotic and sonic, inspiring contemplation and introspection.

Soundwaves responds to Philip Glass’s Etude no. 16 played on piano by Timo Andres as part of the 2015 Phillips Music program. Lu’s paintings visualize the sound into a spatial configuration—soundwaves. Repetitive notes and chords from Glass’s music are translated into a physical space: the seven notes played on the piano by the left hand are represented by seven paintings on the left side of the gallery and the five notes played by the right hand are represented by five paintings on the right side of the gallery.

Vesela Sretenović, Director of Contemporary Art Initiatives and Academic Affairs, notes, “What Glass’s music and Lu’s painting share is sternness and rigor, but also something atmospheric and dreamy; they evoke stillness and wonder, emotion and reflection.”

The artist’s interest in sound and color stems from her background in music. Growing up, Lu studied classical piano and music theory, and later she would discover the writings and works of Wassily Kandinsky. While the vibrating colors of Lu’s abstractions recall Color Field and Washington Color School paintings as well as Op-Art, the soft surfaces and repetitive circular patterns arranged in various widths and intervals resonate with the musical precision of Bach and Vivaldi and the poetic melodies of Chopin. 

“In this spatial arrangement, the emotions of music are carried through colors of paintings,” explains Lu. “Each painting becomes an instrument, a source of sound that materializes the poetic quality of music.”

Artist Talk and Opening Reception

February 9 at 6:30 pm
Artist Linling Lu and Director for Contemporary Art Initiatives and Academic Affairs Vesela Sretenović will discuss Soundwaves.

Family sewing workshop at THEARC
March 8

Phillips Music featuring Conrad Tao and Jay Campbell
April 8 at 2:30 & 6:30 pm
The Phillips presents a site-specific newly commissioned musical work by American composer Catherine Lamb, titled The Additive Arrow. Lamb’s piece for midi-keyboard and cello echoes Lu’s meditative exploration of sight and sound, as well as the relationships of form and structure between music and the visual arts.


Linling Lu was born in 1983 in Zunyi, Guizhou Province, China, and currently lives and works in Baltimore. In addition to her colorful tondos, Lu’s other work includes small sculptures of interlocking wood blocks, as well as fabric collages that incorporate Chinese textiles. Lu received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and an MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, MICA. Her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions, including at Towson University’s Center for the Arts (2018); Kohl Gallery at Washington College (2019); The Delaware Contemporary (2021); Katzen Art Center at American University (2021); and Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (2022). Lu’s work is in collections such as the Microsoft Art Collection, Louis Vuitton, City Center DC, and the Embassy of the United States of America in Beijing. 



The Phillips Collection’s Intersections is an ongoing series of contemporary art projects in which artists are invited to produce work that engages the museum’s architecture and/or permanent collection, exploring the intriguing intersections between old and new traditions, modern and contemporary art practices, and museum spaces and artistic interventions. Inaugurated in 2009 and led by Vesela Sretenović, Intersections has presented 33 projects from the US and abroad. The artists have created diverse projects—both aesthetically and conceptually—and employed various media. Many of the projects also riff on the nontraditional nature of the museum’s galleries, sometimes activating spaces that are not typical exhibition areas with art produced specifically for those locations.

High-resolution press images are available upon request. Please contact

IMAGE: Linling Lu, Digital rendering of Soundwaves, Courtesy of the artist

The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, was founded in 1921. The museum houses one of the world’s most celebrated Impressionist and American modern art collections and continues to grow its collection with important contemporary voices. Its distinctive building combines extensive new galleries with the former home of its founder, Duncan Phillips. The Phillips’s impact spreads nationally and internationally through its diverse and experimental special exhibitions and events, including its award-winning education programs for educators, students, and adults; renowned Phillips Music series; and dynamic art and wellness and Phillips after 5 events. The museum contributes to global dialogues with events like Conversations with Artists and Artists of Conscience. The Phillips Collection values its community partnership with THEARC—the museum’s satellite campus in Southeast DC. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations.

IMAGE: Linling Lu, Digital rendering of SoundwavesIntersections: Linling LuIntersections: Linling LuIntersections: Linling LuIntersections: Linling LuIntersections: Linling Lu