Wednesday, November 16, 2016

INSPIRE ME! Philip Campbell, Artist of 2016

"No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace"

By Ernest O. Disney-Britton
"Rising From The Fire" by Philip Campbell, 20x16x2 inches
Philip Campbell carves deeply to create timeless wooden sculptures packed with allegory and storytelling. The artist cites Hispanic icon carvers as early influences in his work but is "open to the lessons we can learn from all belief systems." I first met him when he was awarded a 2013-2014 Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. His renewal project was a ritualistic tattooing of his entire body to detail “the story of who I am.” Journeys, death, and renewal are recurring themes, so it was no surprise when AOA readers voted him as 2016 Artist of the YearPhilip Campbell is, perhaps a precursor to a new way of seeing the evolving relationship between religion and the visual arts. There is more inspiration below:
Mixed media artist Phil Campbell in his studio. Image courtesy of Michelle Pemberton / The Indianapolis Star
  1. Where and when were you born, and what is your artistic training? I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 16, 1965. I was first inspired by the paintings of my older brother. In 1983 I took an airbrush class with Tony Utley. His training and wisdom opened me right up. I Received my BFA from the Herron School of Art in 1989.
  2. "Spiritual Make-Believe" by Philip Campbell, 20x16x2 inches
  3. Which religious tradition has informed your artwork, and how? When I decided to start sculpting I looked to Hispanic icon carvers for inspiration. Their totems of figures formed in to crosses fascinated me. I have recently discovered the work of Zygfryd Gross. He carves religious sculpture in the baroque style. I cannot say enough about his work and the possibilities it fills my head with.
  4. Polish-artist Zygfryd Gross in his studio carving sacred sculpture for a church
  5. Have you ever had to defend exploring religious ideas? No
  6. What challenges have you faced in creating religious-themed works? So far I haven’t faced any. I tell my stories in hopes of helping you reconnect to yours. Like in “Rising From The Fire” The phoenix rising from the fire and ashes is most often used as an emblem of reborn idealism or hope, but if you have been through that fire you know that you emerge much more humble like the sparrow. Its about your personal experiences regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.
  7. "Rising From the Fire" by Philip Campbell is a work about renewal.
  8. Who are your favorites artists, and whose work is in your own collection? A few of my favorite artists include Francesco Clemente, Louise Nevelson, El Anatsui, Ando Hiroshige. Artists in my collection include Tony Fitzpatrick, Lois Main Templeton, Justin Cooper, Johnny McKee, David Morrison, Marisa Carpes, Joyce Garner, Carl Robert Pope Jr. and many others.
  9. Francesco Clemente's Sufi inspired work "After Attar's 'The Conference of the Birds' V," 45 inches by 45 inches, watercolor/paper, 2006. . Courtesy: Mary Boone Gallery, New York.
  10. Who collects your work, and why? My work is mostly in private collections. People who collect my work are people who connect to the narrative. People who say, “Thats my story” or “That reminds me of the time…”
  11. "The Codependent Captain and His Sinking Ship" by Philip Campbell, 20x16x2 inches
  12. Where can AOA collectors experience your work this year? Over the next year you can see my work in NYC at Clampart; Cincinnati at Thundersky Inc.; Santa Monica at BG Gallery; Indianapolis at Christian Theological Seminary on February 22nd; and my next solo exhibit is at Adventureland Gallery in Chicago in April 2018.
  13. Detail of "Burning Boats" installation by Philip Campbell, 24'x4'x2'. Image courtesy of the artist
Congratulations to our ninth annual awardee for the Alpha & Omega Prize for Contemporary Religious Arts. An artist whose current favorite sayings is: "No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace." For more on Philip Campbell, please visit his website:
Established in 2008, the Alpha Omega Prize is presented annually on November 1st.