High culture is nothing but a child of that European perversion called history, the obsession we have with going forward, with considering the sequence of generations a relay race in which everyone surpasses his predecessor, only to be surpassed by his successor. Without this relay race called history there would be no European art and what characterizes it: a longing for originality, a longing for change. Robespierre, Napoleon, Beethoven, Stalin, Picasso, they're all runners in the relay race, they all belong to the same stadium.



Looking at the ongoing, exponential growth of humans, I'm intrigued by the concept of frontiers. Existing as the rare remaining areas of intersection between humans and the unknown, our perception of the frontier, or the clash occurring there, has changed. With a nod to the nostalgia of an outdated 20th century American boom that seems, in retrospect, to have been the death throes of Manifest Destiny, I'm interested in the basic human desire to inflict our presence on the earth in a meaningful way, and the increased demand that we make on resources and each other to continue this process of expansion. Despite a complete lack of evidence anywhere in nature that constant growth is sustainable, we have modeled our economy on its necessity. With the responsibility of raising a child, and simply through his presence in my life, I have become more conscious of my impact on the future. However small, it remains a fraction of the whole.

This current body of work is, in a way, an exploration of my evolving view of my role as an artist, often in relation to my role as a father and husband, and represents tangible objects created as manifestations of that process and that inner dialogue. Within absurd heirlooms or relics, and drawings that are schematics of impossible solutions to seemingly impossible problems, there exists another frontier: the space where my optimism meets my concern, where I can simultaneously revel in my amazement at our collective ingenuity, and agonize at our collective ignorance. While my impact feels insignificant on a macro level, in my home with my family, and even more so in my studio, it is everything. And so I am content with what I leave behind, however insignificant; either in the physical form of my work, or in how I raise my son, I am briefly, and imperfectly, carrying the baton.



Joseph Phillips is an artist based in Austin, Texas. After receiving a degree in Art and Art History from Skidmore College in 2000, Phillips returned to Austin where he became a founding partner of the nonprofit gallery and studio complex Big Medium, the East Austin Studio Tour, Sodalitas Collaborative Art Group and The Texas Biennial. He has exhibited work throughout the U.S., including shows in Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Santa Fe. His work has been included in numerous collections and museum shows, and published and reviewed in periodicals including New American Painting, Art Lies, Glasstire and the Austin Chronicle. 


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