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

“I hope Evonté’s and 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.

Shepherd, who also grew up in rural Mississippi, is a painter whose portraiture will be showcased. He graduated from The W in the fall of 2020.
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.

The exhibition at The W Galleries is one of nine events scheduled for the month-long celebration that honors the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history.

Santania Thompson, who is president of the Young Black Leaders Association and Delta Sigma Theta, which are sponsoring multiple events, said The W’s Black History Month kicks off Feb. 1 with “Express Yourself.” The event will focus on mental health and how African Americans can change the stigmatization placed on mental health within communities. It also will address generational trauma and how African Americans can overcome that.

Thompson also highlighted “For the Culture Game Night” at 6 p.m. Feb. 7, in Cochran Ballroom. The Young Black Leadership Association will serve as host for the event, which will be an outlet for students across the campus to engage with one another through exciting cultural games.

The Young Black Leadership will serve as host for “This Is How We Do It,” the 2nd annual talent show, at 6 p.m. Feb. 21, in Nissan Auditorium. This event is a chance for The W students to showcase their talent while celebrating Black History Month 90’s style, which is why the show is named after the song by Montell Jordan that was a hit in 1995. The W students can sign up for this event by Jan. 27. Cash prizes will be given to the winners.

A list of The W’s events for Black History Month appears below.
Express Yourself 6:30 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium
Omicron Epsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, NPHC, & IDEAL Woman

Art Exhibitions in The W Galleries, Summer Hall
Evonté Shepherd, Portraits / Stephen Phillips, Ceramics
MUW Galleries

Game Night 6 p.m. in Cochran Ballroom
Young Black Leaders Association

All we do is Step, Stroll, & Hop? What is Black Greek?
7 p.m. in Fant MPR
National Pan-Hellenic Council

Black History Celebration Concert 7:30 p.m. in Poindexter Hall
The W Jazz Ensemble

Food as a Resistance 6 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium
Honors College, Fant Library, & Culinary Arts Institute

Talent Show 6 p.m. Nissan Auditorium
Omicron Epsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, & IDEAL Woman

Idea Book Talk on Across that Bridge on Zoom at noon
Fant Library

Movie Night at the Tiered Classroom 6 p.m. in Fant Library
History, Politics, and Geography Society

Jan. 25, 2023
Contact: Adam Minichino
(662) 329-1976

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.