My parents grew up on farms. One grandmother collected things (kept things) and the other was a Grand Storyteller. Both influenced me greatly. I create sculptures and installations using materials available in a given place at a given time – ranging from things found to collected experiences and retold stories. Often, I’ll alter a space using architectural interventions and enlist the public’s participation in the gathering of materials or through performative interactions.
I used to find and keep objects for their potential but I now have a more immediate approach to working with materials and sites: finding, using and letting go. I’ve drastically limited my bounty of resources, forcing myself to rely heavily on insight, good oldfangled farm know-how (thanks, Dad) and my MacGyver-like resourcefulness.
Limiting my resources has also led me to engage viewers more directly in scheduled events and unscheduled mini-events – like the “farm tours” I’ve given in various places where I guide groups around, pointing out and describing bits of my father’s farm (site of the ongoing “The Farms Project”) as if we were actually there; collecting phrases in French from French people in France; using masking tape to write large letters to crushes I’ve had; getting people to “draw a line” for a bound book of 524 lines on 524 pages by 524 people; or in building tents in people’s living rooms using materials they have on hand.
I remain fascinated by collections – even if a bit wary. I abstain from collections by giving myself art-or-else deadlines. Sometimes your things… is such a project, covering the walls with homemade cardboard shadowboxes filled with things found and kept over the years. My parents’ junk drawer… reveals my attraction to meaningless objects that I am, nonetheless, charmed by and have fond memories of.
Currently I’m highlighting the tendency towards accidental collections (all the extension cords from my studio, all the sheets, all the yarn, or all the tape, etc.) by combining them with objects or architectural elements found on site. This immediate way of responding to sites and the current contents of my studio becomes a candid representation of a specific moment in time.
Kerry Phillips has shown extensively in Miami including projects with Locust Projects, the Miami Art Museum, the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood, the Girls’ Club Collection & Bridge Red Studios Project Space. In 2010 she won Best in Show at the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s annual All Florida juried exhibition. She has received other grants for her art making from public and private organizations as well as residencies and shows in Vermont, New York, North Carolina, Berlin, Krakow and France. Phillips lives and works in Miami with her dog, Tonta, who is, a little bit. Her current studio is at the Fountainhead Studio complex in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami.