Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Bathing in Cobalt

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Fluidity, progression, urination: three words to describe Bradley Phillips February exhibit piece in the River Campus Art Museum. And yes, Phillips really did pee on a few of his art pieces of this exhibit to express the process of his artwork.

Bradley Phillips is an Associate Professor in Commercial Multimedia at Southeast. Phillips earned his bachelor's degree from the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. Over the course of the last 10 years, Phillips has tried to break the boundaries and categorical aspects of photography, leaning more on the focus of the process rather than the direct outcome.

“I’m making work, and I’m thinking about, ‘How can I process work as a performative act?’” Phillips said. “ What is more poetic than something that is directly from my body, and I like its relationship to me, and that act of creation?”

Phillips created “Don’t Ask” and “Don’t Tell” by hanging large canvases outside with a pigment. Phillips creates depth in each piece by manipulating light and exposure onto the pieces. The pieces depict shades of blue dripping down, past the edge of the paper. Phillips essentially woke up, drank a lot of water and urinated on the works.

“It was very inspiring, and each piece was developed in different parts of the house and at different times of the day,” said Leslie Shain, Phillips’ wife. “We just bought our house, so it was kind of cool to learn about all these different rooms and start to appreciate more of the little things through these two pieces."

Phillips used different methods to achieve the outcome in each piece. In the pieces “We Will Never be the Same,” Phillips used turmeric, sodium carbonate and UV lighting to aid in an anthotype development process, gradually fading the pigment away from the paper. Phillips created two pieces that will, in fact, never be the same as time goes on.

Phillips gathered inspiration from artists such as Clement Greenberg, Vik Muniz and even his son grabbing his film camera. Phillips said he prioritized the process over the outcome to combat the strenuous standards conveyed in art and photography. In his piece “Here Now,” Phillips did not care what the outcome would be and only bought enough materials for the six pieces. The inspiration for “Here Now” came largely from German photographer Uta Barth, whose work inspired Phillips to use light, perception and the environment to create the pieces.

Southeast Business Administration Senior Ashanté McGuire said, “I really enjoyed the simplicity of the “Here Now” pieces. Challenging perception and creationism allows for an outlet for outliers in the artistic field.”

The River Campus Art Gallery will continue to feature Phillips’ exhibit from Feb. 5 through 26.