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A&E Editorial SCAD

SCAD Artists Delve into the Abstract with Phosphor-Obscura


Looking at Kristen Phipps’s artwork is not unlike staring into a daydream.  The same can be said for Erica Luedtke’s pieces.  The combined effects of their visual undertakings will be on display during their joint exhibition. The showcase, Phosphor-Obscura, will take place on Friday, May 20 at Welmont on Montgomery Street.  

The two senior SCAD painting majors have been planning their senior exhibit since the middle of winter quarter after deciding to collaborate their individual painting personas to create an unconventional and optical exposition.  

“We were trying to bring both of our work together and we actually struggled with a title for a long time,” Phipps said.  “But the ‘obscura’ is my half because I deal a lot with photo obscure techniques and pinhole photography.”

“And ‘phosphor’ relates to my work, because it involves the color luminosity,” Luedtke added.

Elements of the human brain and the natural world inspired both Luedtke and Phipps’s unique techniques used in creating the artwork of Phosphor-Obscura.  

“We wanted to bridge two things that normally wouldn’t be together with color,” Phipps said.  “We both have the common desire to interpret energy around us that we can’t see.”

For Phipps, the creative process began with internal examination and then discovery.    

“Over the last year I wanted to get away from a lot of the control behind my own thoughts,” Phipps said.  “I stumbled upon pinhole photography, knowing nothing about it, and started playing with the unpredictability.  From there I’m bringing these things and places together, from the last year and a half.  I’m playing a visual telephone game with myself.”

Luedtke works on a larger scale compared to Phipps, allowing for her to physically interact and involve herself with her work as it develops throughout her process.    


“I am inviting the viewer to question how we traditionally view painting and I do this through color luminosity and figure/ground relationships,” Luedtke said.  “So the transformation of myself when I do it and relating these ideas of comparing figure and ground and using industrial materials to make something so not industry like a painting.  And then I use industrial squeegees to make the marks.  It’s just kind of like a slight undertone of comparing industry and nature, because you think that they’re very not connected, but industry is just what humans choose to do with nature.”

None of Phipps’s pieces are rectangular or square.  They all have curves, a practice she uses to set herself apart creatively and artistically.  For her works in Phosphor-Obscura, she used the lasers at Gulfstream to shape the wood she paints.  

“I started off very traditional formats, like rectangles, and slowly developed this need to not be confined with the angles, and moved to circles out of curiosity and haven’t really looked back,” Phipps said.  “I really haven’t done anything on a rectangle in over a year now.  I’m strictly circles.”


Through painting in circles and curved shapes, Phipps said she is trying to raise awareness to the significance of memories.  

“What we remember isn’t always the truth,” Phipps said.  “In reality, it’s somewhat like the telephone game.  Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can the original memory.”  

The artists intend to intermingle their works in their gallery space at Welmont so there will not be a clear separation of their ideas.  They intend to include a slight guideline for viewers as to how their pieces should be analyzed, but they will not enforce a formal order of flow.    

Both Phipps and Luedtke feel their work in Phosphor-Obscura is some of their best yet, and they are ecstatic to share it with the community and fellow students.  

“We’re excited about our work,” Phipps said.  “We like our work.  We’re in a really good spot visually.  We both have these directions we’re really proud of.  It’s kind of nice to see your fellow student succeed.”

“This is what we’ve been working four years for and it’s nice that people are able to see it,” Luedtke said.  “Through that word of mouth we hopefully get gallery representation.”

Though they are looking forward to showing their work to a larger audience and gaining exposure in the process, Phipps and Luedtke are most excited to end their painting careers at SCAD on a high note.   

“I feel like we both feel really accomplished,” Phipps said.  “I feel that I’m leaving SCAD with the proper knowledge to go forth and create and keep creating.  I’m a studio artist through and through.  I’m going to keep painting no matter what.”  

To learn more about Phosphor-Obscura, visit http://www.phosphor-obscura-exhibition.com, and be sure to visit the exhibit at Welmont on Friday, May 20 from 5-9 p.m.

Written by Emilie Kefalas.


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