While beginning his lecture with engaging and helpful insight into his practice and research, Phillips' lecture slowly dissolved into little more than a succession of images from his body of work. He inserted historical references intermittently but offered little of relevance to the world of academic art where context and concept are king. His initial words of wisdom in "slowing the viewer down" were helpful and built up anticipation for the rest of the lecture that he may expound further on the topic, but there was not much followthrough. His work proves technically beautiful and well crafted referencing classical figurative representation, comic book technique, and Puebloan design influence, but when questioned about his intentionality in the depiction of the female body or cultural appropriate there seemed to be little to no previous consideration for his charged imagery. Though portraying the female body in the idealized form and sexually submissive postures he had no clear justification or even acknowledgement of the potential for a sexist read on the work. His response to these questions was a rather spineless claim that in comic book culture the male form is idealized as regularly as the female, not taking into account that the male form is most often idealized for strength whereas the female for sexuality.
Nonetheless, Phillips' flawless design techniques are a helpful teaching tool for students and proved useful references in undergrad classroom exercises the following day. The talk also inspired good material for a heated debate in my Foundations course over sexism, cultural appropriation, and the responsibility of the artist to his or her research especially when touching on socially sensitive topics. These are perhaps not the foremost intention of a visiting artist lecture, but useful regardless!