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Inside the Collection: Cozette Phillips

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Cozette Phillips (b. 1976) is an interdisciplinary sculptor and metalsmith working out of Pasco, Washington. In 1998, she earned a BFA in Sculpture and Illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. After completing her BFA, Phillips sought to improve her skills as an artist and metalsmith, so in the early 2000s, she took jewelry and metals classes at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. She went on to earn an MFA in Metals from State University of New York, New Paltz, New York in 2010.

After graduate school, Phillips completed several artist residencies, the first in 2010 at the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. The following year, she traveled to Trondheim, Norway to work at the Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder (LKV), which is the city's largest working artist community. The LKV has 41 individual studios, as well as two workshops with printmaking, metalworking, woodworking, and photography equipment. Phillips was also a resident artist at Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, where she taught continuing education classes in welding and steel fabrication as well as metalsmithing and jewelry making. As of Fall 2019, Phillips will be a tenured Associate Professor of Art at Columbia Basin College (CBC), Pasco, Washington, where she currently teaches Sculpture, 3D Design, 2D Design, and Art Appreciation. She is also the Co-Director of CBC’s Esvelt Gallery.

In addition to teaching and maintaining her own studio practice, Phillips creates public art, including Sister City Sculpture which is on permanent display in Okaya, Japan. Phillips and her husband, Tybre Newcomer, crafted this piece in 2015 for the city of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The sculpture was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mt. Pleasant's relationship with its sister city Okaya. Made of clear resin and aluminum, the sculpture depicts two stacked cross-sections representing two different trees that had grown together over time. One cross section was cast from an eastern white pine, Michigan’s state tree, and the other from the bark of a native Japanese tree. Each section also has 25 rings to symbolize the 50 years of friendship between the two cities. Trees feature heavily in Phillip’s work, as you can see below.

“Phillips’ sculptural works emphasize the environment and the contrast between its transient yet apparently permanent existence. The casting and fabrication techniques Phillips utilizes are motivated by a delicate and reflective combination of materials, processes and subject matter to examine the concepts of transformation and connectivity. Phillips’ transmutation of trees, birds, and human forms using resin, wood and metals, inexplicably interlaces symbol and subject into a singular experience.” – Rachel Smith, Curator of CONSTRUCT: Cozette Philips and Jenny Hyde (1)

In the winter of 2013-2014, Phillips was an artist-in-residence at the Metal Museum, where she created The Hollow Land. This piece was cast from a tree on the Metal Museum’s grounds, and she donated it to the Museum after her residency. The Hollow Land features a cast pewter tree bark casing that encloses bands of concrete, aluminum, and steel. This piece is very typical of Phillips’ “Cross-Section” series, which according to the artist, “has an implicit environmental focus, ideologically and visually evoking humanities influence on the natural world. Through my artistic practice, I interpret natural forms by combining industrial processes and natural materials to focus on the tension between ecologic and cultural changes in the landscape. The goal is to highlight the interconnectedness between the two and invite reflection on what cannot be summarized in a singular representation of form.” (2)

Phillips is a very active exhibiting artist and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions all across the country. She was a 2016 Tributaries artist at the Metal Museum, and this piece, Landscape and Memory was included in the exhibition. This sculpture takes the form of an arm made from resin, wood, plexiglass and micaceous iron oxide. The arm morphs into a tree branch, collared in the center with protruding cast pewter buildings. Phillips donated this piece to the Metal Museum for our 40th anniversary exhibition: Crafting a Legacy: 40 Years of Collecting and Exhibiting at the Metal Museum, where it will be on display until May 12th.

To see more of Cozette Phillips’ work, check out her website or go and see her current and upcoming exhibitions:

Foundry Vineyards, Walla Walla, Washinton

February 1, 2019 - April 29, 2019

Trackside Studio Ceramic Art Gallery, Spokane, Washington

April 5-26, 2019

Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, Lewiston, Idaho

Opens May 17, 2019

Now & Then

Esvelt Gallery, Columbia Basin College, Pasco, Washington

Opens late 2019

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