A Matt Phillips (1927-2017) exhibit entitled “Inspired” is displayed on the 3rd floor of the Main Building in the Rincliffe Gallery from March 29 to June 26. Phillips was a painter, printmaker and art educator who first studied art at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA. The exhibition was curated by Joseph O’Kane.
The name “Inspired” for the collection seems fitting given the wide range of media and collaborations in the display. While Phillips is known for his work with monotypes, a type of printmaking, the collection includes a wide variety of media including monotype collage, charcoal, watercolor, dry paint, pencil, pastel, linocut, lithographs and oil. Additionally, the collection continues to diversify itself by including collaborations with Robert Kelly’s poem, “Mulberry Women” and Elizabeth Chapman’s poem “a Feeling for Good Water.”
This wide range of media might reflect the accomplished life Phillips who lived until he was 89 years old. Phillips was New York born and studied literature at the University of Chicago before studying art at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA. He taught art in Paris for two years before returning to the United States to teach art at Bard College in New York for 27 years.
Upon further inspection of the gallery itself, which is sub-sectioned off with display shelves in the third floor hallway of Main Building, each section has a different theme. The exhibit ranges from a garden theme, which had compelling and cheerful works with flowers and spring-like charm, to a magic show theme where Phillips reflects on his childlike fascination. Other themes include a focus on women, mothers and daughters while another theme focuses on landscapes of world travel with destinations such as France, Venice, India, Morocco and Marrakesh.
The most compelling group of work was the collaborations with poetry. Phillips seemed masterful at illustrating works of good friends such as Robert Kelly’s poetry. The poetry collaborations displayed show an illustration capturing the poem itself while manipulating the actual text with subtle touches of color.
The “Inspired” display in Main is pleasant for the passerby rushing to and from class but includes details and subtleties that require some extra time to appreciate. As a whole, the exhibit represents the multifaceted nature of artists themselves. Details about Phillips’ relationship with Robert Kelly, his fascination with magic shows and quotations from the artist are displayed in text on the walls throughout the exhibit. The cheery display might reflect the perfect ambiance for spring term and might bring some extra inspiration into the quarter.