Guest artist throws clay at MSA

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, February 26, 2022

Native Mississippi potter Stephen Phillips shared his talents this week at Mississippi School of the Arts.

Phillips demonstrated pottery wheel clay-throwing techniques and gave one-on-one instruction to students Tuesday and Wednesday. He trained under national and international ceramics artists at East Mississippi Community College and the Mississippi University for Women.

The artist said he seeks to create vessels that are functional, decorative and well-crafted. 

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“I enjoy the idea of being able to alter a form just slightly in the middle to leave an impression and thought that the vessels are handmade,” Phillips said. “In my recent work, I have been exploring with the juxtaposition of textures and colors. I use underglazes as the base color, and gloss glazes to give a differentiation between the textures and appearances provided by both glazes.”

“Other pieces I create are raku fired for completion. The unglazed surface of the bisque pot will turn a matte black curing the raku firing process, allowing the differentiation between the unglazed surface and the glazed area,” he said. “These pieces are finished using a gold wax as an accent and cold-sealed with a clear acrylic spray paint. Each piece created is considered as an individual that belongs to a large family or collection.”

He established Stephen’s Potter House Productions in 2015, a small studio space in the countryside of his North Mississippi home in Crawford. While creating, Phillips often reflects on his spirituality and faith, with a mindset as a God-created man. The foundation of his art and gallery is found in Jeremiah 18:2-6, when the prophet Jeremiah visits a potter’s house. 

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’” 

“When I create art, it’s an extension of that — I am a created man who gets to create what only I can see in my mind,” Phillips said. 

Phillips was excited to get to visit MSA this week, and said he will tell others that one of the greatest arts schools in the nation is located in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Phillips’ works are displayed in the MUW Eugenia Summer Gallery, the EMMC gallery, the Rosenweig Arts Center, the R. E. Hunt’s Museum, and the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

View brief videos of Phillips teaching at MSA here and here.