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 participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions including projects with Orlando Art Museum, Locust Projects, the Miami Art Museum (now Pérez Art Museum Miami), Museum of Contemporary Art, and Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood, the Girls’ Club Collection & Bridge Red Studios Project Space, among others. Phillips performed Sometimes your things (the great exchange) at Pulse Art Fair, Miami, in association with Girls’ Club Fort Lauderdale and Crush Letters at the Last Minute Performance Festival, Krakow, Poland. She was awarded the Orlando Museum of Art Florida Prize in Contemporary Art in 2018, the 2015 South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual & Media Artists and a commissioned project with Vizcaya’s Lost Spaces & Stories of Vizcaya Contemporary Arts Program. She’s received other grants for her art making from public and private organizations as well as residencies and shows in Ohio, Vermont, New York, North Carolina, Berlin, Krakow and France. Phillips lives and works in Miami.