How can the limits of language expand the dimensions of art? That’s one question addressed by Paul Travis Phillips, an artist and educator based in Winston-Salem. Phillips’ main focus is conceptual art, where he integrates his thoughts on philosophy and language to create paintings, videos, and what he calls “resurfaced objects.”

Phillips is hosting a conversation and studio visit this Saturday at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. Visitors will see works-in-progress that will be displayed at an exhibition at High Point University's Sechrest Art Gallery opening September 6.

Phillips is asking visitors to donate banned or challenged books that will be incorporated into one of his installations.

WFDD’s Neal Charnoff recently spoke with Phillips at the WFDD studios.

Interview highlights

On his goals as an artist:

"When I have an exhibition, my hope is that viewers become curious in ways that they didn't know that they could become curious. My work is not about object placement, I'm not creating work specifically for the desire to sell it. I'm hoping to turn people's brains on, in ways that they may have been shut off based on the time or conditions and context that they were raised in."

On how the concept of book bans informs his work:

"I have dyslexia, and language has always been a sort of barrier to accessing the things I'm most curious about. And over the course of my life, I've developed, you know, strategies to deal with it. But nevertheless, the things I'm most curious about can't really be interrogated through standard conversation. I need to read, I need to develop resources and survival instincts to figure out how to wade through this really difficult content. And the idea of books being removed is just another barrier to that."

On his role as an arts educator:

"My main role there is to elicit curiosity to help students deconstruct the standard models of their thinking, the kind of standardization that we have in our society, and hopefully encourage students to really step out and pursue what they're really interested in, and figure out where those interests are in the world and how they can contribute positively to them."

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