Culture » Visual Arts

CC alumna draws on Oakland experiences for local community work

The Cut


  • Steve Wood

The trend among Colorado College graduates has been to leave the Springs in the rearview. At least, that's the way CC creative writing grad Nanette Phillips tells it. But she thinks the trend is changing. More and more CC grads are sticking around and helping this city grow.

Or, in Phillips' case, they're coming back.

After earning her degree in 2014, the Washington state native moved to Oakland, California, a city she describes as a collision point for myriad cultures. While there, she got involved with a variety of community-building projects, from printmaking — her primary artistic medium — to urban gardening and more.

"There are so many progressive folks doing awesome work and tons of nonprofits," she says. But Phillips felt the scene was nearing capacity for the kind of work she wanted to do, and she felt limits on her ability to contribute. "I was drawn back to the Springs because I saw and felt a great need for inspired young people to do the work of creating spaces in which communities can gather and form and grow stronger."

Last Saturday, Dec. 17, after a stint protesting at Standing Rock, she completed a two-week artist residency with Concrete Couch, collaborating with program director Kendall Kultgen (pictured above) on art installations and general planning, working on everything from bike racks to community murals. She says Concrete Couch's emphasis on recycled and found art supplies proved a challenge.

"I've done a lot of DIY sculpture, but as far as printmaking goes, I was spoiled with the facilities at Colorado College," she says. "There was a moment when I realized 'I'm going to have to completely rethink how we're going to do printmaking...' It takes a lot more imagination than just doing what I was taught in school."

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