Emily Phillippe is a 19-year-old freshman at Indiana Wesleyan studying art education, but more than that, she is an artist herself.
Phillippe is this month’s featured artist at The Bridge Cafe, where she has been given the opportunity to showcase her favorite form of expression by way of her paintings.
“It’s a way for me to express myself,” Phillippe said. “I hope that with some of my pieces, people will see the hard work it takes to be an artist.”
A 12x12 inch burlap oil painting that is currently showcased at The Bridge is titled “Stitching Up the Pain,” and Phillippe’s inspiration for the painting was more personal than one might assume. Phillippe’s painting won a Gold Key in the Scholastic Art Awards during her high school years, and it centers around Phillippe stitching up her back. “Stitching Up the Pain” is Phillippe’s representation of her ongoing battle with scoliosis and her multiple back surgeries.
Therefore, it is safe to say that Phillippe’s artwork is not only genuine, but tells a story beyond what meets the eye.
There is a large variation of Phillippe’s paintings hanging at The Bridge, ranging from 4x4 in. to 24x36 inch size. A common theme within many of Phillippe’s paintings is colorful abstract backgrounds with contrasting black and white portraits as the focus.
“Painting black and white portraits with abstract backgrounds has been my latest phase,” Phillippe said.
A perfect example of this theme is Phillippe’s painting “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil,” which consists of three black and white portraits with an abstract background.
“The first guy has a blindfold on, the guy in the middle has his hands over his ears, and the last guy has a piece of tape hanging from his mouth,” Phillippe said. “I thought that I could find facial expressions that would appear more powerful in black and white rather than just a blank stare. I thought they would convey more emotion.”
One of Phillippe’s favorite paintings hanging at The Bridge is titled “Beach Boy,” which is a recreation of a painting by Norman Rockwell.
“I love the red colors in the boy’s face and the dripping ice cream. It feels like you are on the beach with him,” Phillippe said. “The background is cut in the middle, half of it is white and half of it is covered with umbrellas.”
Another 24x36 inch showcased painting is titled “Surrounded,” which highlights a blue-skinned lady looking out into the distance. This painting is a prime example of Phillippe's love for big paintings; she stated that when the paintings are big, so are the ideas that inspired them.
Phillippe’s art is not all that she wants to pursue in future years, as she has expressed her desire to become an AP art teacher. The decision to teach art was one that was made during her sophomore year of high school under the guidance of her high school art teacher, Tashema Davis.
“I want to help them express themselves,” Phillippe said in reference to her future students. “I want to help them make what they want to make.”