Kerry Phillps: (Un)forgetting

June 25 - Sept 10, 2022

WAAM is pleased to present the studio archives of Miami-based artist Kerry Phillips. Kerry Phillips: (Un)forgetting Part I transforms WAAM into a living archive of objects and documentation that spans twenty years. (Un)forgetting underscores the often overlooked, unpredictable, and incidental nature of the archival impulse. How do we gather, collect, and accumulate objects? How are meaning and value ascribed to objects? How do collections assume their own unique identity?  And how do these collected objects convey personal/collective memory over time? Phillips presents us with a nuanced, playful, and meaningful look at the ontological resonance of objects and the ways in which they coexist in a world that humans manipulate. We all possess special mementos, keepsakes, and objects that have personal value. We might preserve family heirlooms that are passed down from generation to generation, record oral histories of our relatives, save hand-written letters or save unclassifiable items in junk drawers. These acts of recording are potent transmitters of memory.

Phillips' mediates the transmission of memory through both tangible and intangible means. Her appreciation of the inherent power of objects and/or experiences transcends rigid assumptions. Throughout her artistic practice, Phillips has blended a social and performance-based approach that examines and mines site-specific histories. The act of excavation often includes a form of ‘archival processing’. Each space or site presents a unique set of qualities that reveal a natural intellectual and temporal order. The act of discovery, organization, arrangement and classification embodies the unveiling of the potential of that site. By connecting the act of processing both the physical/ immaterial, with performative and participatory practices, she creates ‘living archives. This ‘archival performativity’ manifests in diverse and unexpected ways throughout her artmaking.¹ WAAM presents a meta-archive of sorts, that traces and contextualizes her hybrid practice of “collecting”. 

Phillips playfully honors the ‘lost & found’ in her Berlin photo series that documents objects she found but was determined to not pick up. At the Deering Estate in Miami, she recaptions historical photos with fictional titles that disrupt archival naming conventions. The construct of home as a shifting space is explored through her farm tour interactions. Phillips takes participants on a guided tour of her father’s farm in Texas in a parking lot in Hollywood, pointing to and describing areas of the farm as if they were actually present. The themes of home and family are highly influential in her work. She credits her grandmothers with inspiring her practice deeply. While one was an avid collector who kept and accumulated things, the other was a prolific storyteller. Items gathered from her childhood home including her mother’s linen calendars, photographs, carpet fragments, old tools, lamps, and other miscellaneous items are often used in her installations. Remnants from participatory projects such as collections of memory jars that visitors can leave a memento in and piles of throw cushions amassed over the years, evoke a sense of comfort and the familiar. We are pleased to invite you to discover the act of (Un)forgetting at WAAM on view from June 25 to September 25, 2022.   

Kerry Phillips earned an MFA from the University of Arizona and has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the Orlando Museum of Art, Locust Projects, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Oolite Arts and Bridge Red Projects. She has exhibited and completed residencies in Ohio, Vermont, New York, North Carolina, and internationally in Berlin, Krakow, Mexico, and France. Her work is held in the collections of the Orlando Museum of Art, The Girls’ Club, and Mosquera Collections. She lives and works in Miami.

¹Birkin, Jane. "Art, work, and archives: performativity and the techniques of production." Archive Journal 5 (2015): 1-14