We had the good fortune of connecting with Philana Oliphant and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Philana, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Many people in my family were artistic and I was fortunate to have support from them when I went to college to study art. I managed a couple of years at school before financial stress and other obstacles caused me to leave school and find fulltime employment. Some jobs had creative aspects to them and some did not. I tried very hard to make a living doing things that I had no passion for. That is a difficult path. During that time I lost confidence in making art and also a part of my spirit for lack of a better word. Years later I enrolled for an art class at a junior college and went on to earn a BFA in art. I learned to trust a flexible rhythm and pattern to my time in the studio that fit my life and enriched all other aspects of my life. With a family and teaching fulltime I also committed to myself a studio practice which I have kept for over thirty years. It takes as much work, energy and discipline to make a life following one’s passion as it does to live without it. There will always be questions and doubt popping in along the way but the rewards are far greater if you follow your passion. Be flexible. The first idea of how to go about your career may not be the fit. Don’t give up. Keep going.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community? What sets you apart from others?
What sets me apart from others might be that I recognized early enough in my life that expression through visual art is a very important part of who I am and deserves cultivation. Making and selling artwork was not my livelihood but I have made artwork consistently for over thirty years.  Because of this dedication I have enjoyed a great teaching career and exhibited my work around the country.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I were going to show a friend around the area I would start out in Fort Worth and go to Shaw Street Studio to ask artist David Conn for a tour of his print studio. Afterwards lunch at Carshon’s Delicatessen. I would have to take my friend to the Fort Worth Modern. We would go to Denton at some point and visit Paschall Bar. It is on the townsqaure but you have to know how to get in. Dinner at Queenie’s Grill. Later we would be in Tyler where we would lunch at Culture ETX. I would introduce my visitor to the art faculty at Tyler Junior College and we would all walk over to the Tyler Museum of Art. It is a beautiful space.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My daughter, Aza Pace, has influenced my artwork in many ways over the years. Before she was born my work was quiet, still and predictable. When she was very young my time in the studio was limited which is when I stopped correcting my drawings and also began dry point plates to print. I had to accept whatever happened and problem solve. Working in this way clarified my evolution as an artist. I began trusting my hand. I began trusting time patterns of studio time.  Since then my work reflects more the elegant chaos of living. The work is free, strong but also delicate. I don’t believe I could have discovered that path any other way than having Aza in my life. Aza spent a lot of time in the studio while she was growing up.  She is a maker of things as well as being a story teller. Again, what I learned then I could not have come by any other way. Aza’s passion for words and books came very early in her life. She has always been self-motivated to cultivate that passion. This spring Aza earned a PHD in poetry. Being her mother strengthens my resolve to follow my passion of making art work as well. She can see through me the importance and life reward of continuing to not only make work but to be curious and push in this life no matter what age. It is a quest.

Website: philanaoliphant.com

Instagram: philana.oliphant

Image Credits

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