Phillip K. Smith Captures Stills of Light & Change Using the Californian Desert as his Backdrop

For west coast based artist Phillip K. Smith, the desert isn't just a geographical location—it's a narrative woven into his work—the harsh scapes, unapologetic in their beauty, are the very wellspring of his inspiration. In his highly anticipated first solo exhibition at Hexton Gallery, titled Outside In / Inside Out Smith takes viewers on a transformative journey against the California Desert’s striking backdrop. The exhibition, which ran through August 12, 2023, transcends conventional artistic boundaries which are not only shaped by the environment but are inseparable from it.

Smith's artistry is guided by the dual forces of the desert's influence and the interplay of light, space, and color. His work wasn't impacted by a single defining moment, but rather by the beauty of a repeated spectacle. The daily sunset drives home from his former Indio, CA studio granted him moments that were as fleeting as they were profound. "I had 10 to 15 minutes every single day staring at the perfect gradient of light, and ultimately, I began to question how that perfect gradient could enter into my work." Smith did indeed discover ways for the ephemeral dance of colors along interstate 10 could be woven into his own creations. The interplay of color and environment is a deeply personal and evocative palette that drives his creative spirit.

As a light-based artist he affirms, "change should be met with embrace" —a mantra that has led to the stunning evolution of his work. The ever-changing desert environment is not a challenge to overcome.The landscape's unyielding temperament, relentless transformations is instead his teacher. Smith aims to capture this in the raw and distill it into luminous installations that echo the desert's story of adaptation.

His installations, whether nestled amidst the sands or juxtaposed against the stark mountains, evoke a sense of timelessness. A homage to the natural world— It's as if his works are in silent conversation with the land itself, and echoing the whispers of moments passed.

More of Smith’s work can be seen in Three Parallels currently on view at Scottsdale MOCA through Jan 14, 2023. Three large-scale public works will be installed between now and Spring 2024 in Bellevue, WA, North Scottsdale, AZ, and La Jolla, CA.

As the California Desert continues to be his muse, Phillip K. Smith's art continues to transcend boundaries, reminding us that embracing change can lead to the most exquisite creations.

Commissioned work by artist Phillip K. Smith Ill for a private collection in Rancho Mirage, CA. By day, The piece titled Sky Torus transforms into an organic metamorphosis of nature, denoting the change of atmosphere over the individual hours of the day. Image Credit: Lance Gerber