"I love and cherishes the relationships and communities I have with other women, females are most often my greatest support system and best inspiration in how I make art and live my life."

©Philo Cohen

©Philo Cohen

Who are you?

I have a huge affinity for the human figure, and for the colors I use. I am originally from Illinois although I normally go to arts boarding school in Northern Michigan, but as of now I am in the middle of a semester art program in California. I am a junior in high school and I am about to turn 17. My favorite color is mint green and I love fire. Along with art I love to cook, garden, and write. 

How did you first get into art?

I loved to make things when I was younger (I had the best craft closet as a kid) but my first real introduction to art was pretty sudden. I was in 6th grade when I decided to sit down and draw a portrait of one of my friends. I worked for hours and hours, with critiques from my mother, who is an acrylic painter herself. I do not think I loved making art then, but I yearned to be better than I was. Being stubborn, something I also learned from my mom, I spent the next year working every night drawing portraits just so I could feel a sense of accomplishment. Then somehow, along the way, I learned to love it, and I learned to need it. 

What is the purpose of your work? 

My work is my main tool of problem solving. Especially recently, I have been using art as a tool for working through things in my life. I am not always comfortable with talking to people about my problems, and so I tend to internalize things to a destructive degree. Art is my way of externalizing, and it is a way for me to communicate with the people around me, and with myself. I feel that my work, and the process of making the work, has taught me so much about myself.

What materials do you use?

I work predominantly as a painter, both acrylic and oil, I enjoy working with an interdisciplinary basis in mind. I also have a love of printmaking, specifically linoleum block prints. I also work a lot in my sketchbook with collage and a whole random mix of pencils and pens I have picked up over the years. (On a side note, I also make stickers and small drawings with a large pack of Crayola pipsqueak markers. I 110% vouch for them, because they are really inexpensive but last a long time and have beautiful colors and make beautiful marks.)

Who inspires you? 

Euan Uglow, Hope Gangloff, Lucien Freud, Bo Bartlett, Alice Neel, Helen Frankenthaler, Mary Cassatt, Gustav Klimt, Andrew Hem, Alex Kanevsky, and Clare Grill to name a few painters. I am inspired by the words of my favorite authors, poets, work of my peers and my friends and family.

Where do you prefer to work? 

Spaces filled with light, nature and other artists. Spaces where I am alone. There are times when I need to work on generating ideas in the dark, when everyone is asleep. There are also times where I need to work in a place where I can see other people making, and natural light is brimming. 

Who is your work for?

I make the work for myself, because the process to me is more often than not more important than the product. But I also think that the product is my way of communicating with people, and I think that that form of communication is for everyone else. So, all in all, the art is for anyone willing to see it.

Has your art ever been on display? 

I have had my art in juried exhibitions at my school, and in small galleries. I also work for the literary online magazine and Rookiemag as an illustrator.

What are your favorite places? 

I live in different places around the year because of boarding school so I am going to make a small list.

- The installation graveyard behind the visual arts building at my school. It is where the student's outdoor installations go to die. It is within the forest that surrounds the entire campus.

- The creek near my house, under the bridge.

- My best friend's farm, we like to ride her lawnmower down the hills with her dog chasing after us.

- The Art institute in Chicago, specifically, next to the Francis Bacon painting called "Man with Meat”.

- Lastly, there is a bathroom in the DeYoung art museum in San Francisco that is covered wall to wall in the most beautiful color of mint green tiles.

Tell us an interesting story.

Pretty recently I conducted a seance with some of my peers in the top floor of an old gardening shed. We all got together with candles and crystals and sat in a circle and called out to whatever was in the shed. It was super weird and nerve wracking at first, but then we got rolling and we learned that whatever entity we were speaking with, reacted well to jokes. So I went on telling funny stories and knock knock jokes, and we are planning on going back with more jokes prepared next time ! 

How has the female role played a part in your life?

My mother played a huge role in my life, not only in bringing me life, but in fostering my passions.  In my art, one of my greatest inspirations is the female form.  As a woman who loves and cherishes the relationships and communities I have with other women, females are most often my greatest support system and best inspiration in how I make art and live my life.