Julia Phillips was born and raised in Hamburg. She studied Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts Hamburg before attending Columbia’s MFA program and received several DAAD scholarships. After graduating in 2015, she attended several international residency programs. Phillips works primarily with ceramics and metal, creating sculptures reminiscent of functional objects that relate to the human body. Her work is currently on view at the New Museum in New York, and her first institutional solo exhibition will open April 15, 2018 at MoMA PS1, titled Failure Detection.

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We asked Julia a few questions about her work and experience:

  1. What sparked your interest in art, especially sculptures and ceramics?
    I was taken to museums at an early age by my parents and took an instant liking to visual art, as a form of self expression. Clay serves me very well, as it is quite an intuitive medium. Similar to drawing, it does not need much preparation or many steps from taking a piece of clay to starting to sculpt. The firing process for me is a different chapter.
  2. What are you currently working on?
    Currently I am preparing my first institutional solo exhibition that will be on view at MoMA PS1, opening April 15th.
  3. What was the most challenging experience in developing your art, your own voice?
    Finding my people. In order to develop my own voice, I needed the right people around me to let it resonate in a way that I could actually hear it.
  4. What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had since moving to New York?
    My North German mentality is often read as very direct. A yes is a yes, and a no a no. It took me a moment to learn that “weellll, let me think about it” basically means no. Another would be my outrage that often indoor paint jobs are done without taping the edges (can I add a ghost emoticon here :D).
  5. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study?
    To think intuitively and courageously inside the studio, and carefully and strategically outside the studio, when planning career steps. Ideally both, with a warm heart.
  6. What advice would you give to North American students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?
    To develop and indulge in deep, meaningful friendships with fellow students. A good professional network is ideally not just a collection of business cards, but relationships maintained over years.
  7. Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one?
    Yes, “Spinat, Kartoffeln und Spiegelei”, as well as “Kartoffesuppe mit Würstchen.”
  8. Who has inspired you the most in your career and why?
    I cannot narrow them down to one. Several people have inspired me a great deal. I do have one outstanding artist mentor and her name is Simone Leigh. She is outstanding because she stayed true to herself throughout her long, ongoing career, and has developed such a rich and eclectic practice and visual language that I keep developing new ideas and questions around her work. Another reason why she is outstanding is because she does not draw a line in mentoring only in art, but shares valuable experiences regarding life questions, as well and she has helped me mature not only as an artist, but as a person, as well.

Learn more about Julia’s work and our DAAD Scholarships.

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