The inspiring theme contained in Helen Phillippi’s mural project, which she recently donated to the Great Plains College Swift Current Campus, means its permanent home inside the main entrance of the post secondary institution is an ideal home for the thoughtful artwork.
Phillippi’s piece, Celebratory Constructions, was unveiled during a presentation on February 16. The artwork features rich, vibrant oil paint colours, and combines ceramic sculpture, ceramic shards and plaster, all on wood panels.
“This stands as mentorship to encourage people to look beyond themselves and dig in and find out exactly what is that burning desire you have to accomplish in life,” she said of the mural she completed as a final project to receive her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Open Studio) degree from the University of Regina.
Pillippi took her first two years of her Fine Arts education at Great Plains College starting in 2008, and went on to pursue her goal of completing her degree and becoming a professional artist. She went on to graduate in 2013 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Open Studio), with Distinction, plus she won the Faculty of Fine Arts Dean’s Medal and the University Prize in Fine Arts.
“Celebratory Constructions is also indicative of the journey I took to become a professional artist. Through the years, from grassroots struggling to light the candle to move forward with my goals, passionately working step by step, frame by frame, learning skills, understanding and discovering new perspectives. I found enlightenment. I gathered courage. I faced many challenges, solved those problems, took risks, and passed the finish line. It was truly one of the most exciting things I have accomplished in my life.”
The Ontario born Phillippi originally arrived in the West in 1975 on a student exchange in Cabri, and she now resides in that community as a professional artist.
She first became involved in the arts in Swift Current in the 1970s when she taught music at Music Village, and then for another decade at a home studio when the store closed.
After a further decade of work and raising a family, she felt she could not ignore her lifelong desire of pursuing arts as a career.
She took two years of her education in Swift Current and then became a full time student in Regina to complete the pursuit of her degree.
Phillippi notes that a European trip was the inspiration for her final project. She visited major galleries in Paris, Milan, and Amsterdam, and took over 2,000 digital photographs during her trip. It was here she was saw the importance of public art and how it inspires and documents the evolution of humankind.
She explained the art piece, which took over 600 hours to complete, illustrates the aesthetics and architecture of Amsterdam, Paris and Rome.
“The art and design that is visible in architecture are intimately bound up with who we are, combining the science of building with the art of living.”
“The energy of colour, line and texture in this work will also reflect my belief in the value of public art, for the purpose of decorating the world positively and serving to improve humanity.”
Great Plains College is excited to be the permanent home for this artwork, especially as it comes from an accomplished alumna.
“Helen is an example of how the Regional College can help the community and help individuals overcome obstacles and achieve the best possible results in their educational goals,” noted Great Plains College President Dr. David Keast.