A Trade with a History- Artist as Collector

Delaware based artist, Kai Bartram is this week’s guest blogger for our Artist as Collector Series.  Here’s what he has to say about what is in his collection.

Cynthia Phillips, Untitled
7″ x 35″
I met Cynthia Phillips in a printmaking class at Alfred University when we were both art students there. I’ve found that one of the most valuable aspects of an arts education is the opportunity to watch other budding artists develop. As a process based artist myself, I’m often most interested in transitional pieces that document the process of exploration and discovery, and the best student work does exactly that. Alfred is a small school with an even smaller print program, so I had the opportunity to watch Cynthia’s unique pictorial language emerge over several years and several more classes at the same time as I was striving to do the same. I was drawn to much of the work that she was producing at the time, but this etching in particular spoke to me, and I traded her one of my own etchings for this proof. One of the unsung advantages to processes that produce multiple images of varying quality is the ease of trading.
Cynthia Phillips, etching (detail)
collection of Kai Bartram

I love this piece because it conveys a sense of a narrative by making use of the language of comics and/or animation, and yet it is a confusing and fragmentary narrative. It’s a well-worn dream, a looping video that suddenly skips, nostalgia punctuated with sudden anxious revelation. I have always responded to imagery that straddles the line between whimsical and sinister, playful and threatening. The idealization of childhood tends to obscure the dark side of innocence. Children often lack the context to understand their experience of the supernatural and are inclined to feel the shapeless forces that inhabit their interior world lurking just outside of their field of vision, ready to spring into the next frame. 

Kai Bartram is a printmaker and newly minted art librarian who lives and works in Delaware

What art school friends have you watched develop and kept in touch with?


  1. Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks
    January 17, 2013

    Great blog!

  2. Nanci Hersh
    January 22, 2013

    Thanks Johanna, I hope that you will be a guest blogger for the Artist as Collector Series. Let me know when you are available and I will tell you what I need. Would love to see what inspires you.


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