Stephen Phillips didn’t know he was a member of a select community.

Stephen Phillips

Phillips’ epiphany came when he was an undergraduate at Mississippi University for Women and professor Alisa Holen asked him to research other black ceramic artists.

“I was surprised we were few in numbers,” said Phillips, who is from Crawford and earned a degree in art education from The W in 2013. “Professor Holen spoke into my life and encouraged me to pursue my studies in ceramics because of my natural ability.”

The work of Phillips will be on exhibition as part of The W’s celebration of Black History Month. Phillips’ ceramics will be on display Feb. 6 through March 17 in The W Galleries and Summer Hall.

“I hope Stephen’s exhibitions will inspire our current students,” said Dr. Beverly Joyce, director of The W Galleries.

Phillips, who is a member of The W Galleries Advisory Board, also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics from The W.

Phillips’ work will be from his Color Contrast series. The series focuses on colors vs. matte and glossy surfaces with abstract lines.

“When I’m working on this series, I’m often thinking about creating movement along the surface of the form to help to bring an appreciation for the shape of the piece,” Phillips said.

Phillips, who works at Steel Dynamics in Columbus, did a two-day workshop that included an artist talk in October 2022 in San Francisco. He has his own ceramic studio in Crawford. This will be his second exhibition at The W since he graduated.

Phillips also has been published in two magazines and two books, including “Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists,” which was released in November 2022. He said he is forever grateful to all of his art professors at The W for their encouragement and support.