Maria Phillips’ upcoming BAM exhibition interrogates our relationship with plastic

August 07, 2019
Images: Maria Phillips, "Feedback Cycle - Seattle #2". Photo: Emilie Smith; Maria Phillips at Recology. Photo: Courtesy of the artist; Maria Phillips, "Undercurrent: Plasticene" (installation detail). Photo: Emilie Smith.

August 7, 2019
Contact: Emilie Smith
Phone: 425.519.0755
[email protected]


Press Image Gallery
(password protected)

For access credentials, please contact Emilie Smith, Marketing Manager, at:
[email protected]

Maria Phillips: Hidden in Plain Sight is on view at Bellevue Arts Museum October 4, 2019 – March 8, 2020.

Bellevue, WA—Seattle artist Maria Phillips is taking plastic to task in a new exhibition at Bellevue Arts Museum. Hidden in Plain Sight, opening October 4, is Phillips’ first solo museum exhibition and will feature works created using recycled materials and single-use consumer goods. Phillips’ upcoming exhibition follows her award-winning work in BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis.

Hidden in Plain Sight examines our culture’s relationship to plastic in two parts. The first will feature a series of jewelry pieces and small-scale works that serve as evidence of our impact on the environment, placing non-recyclable plastics somewhere between artifacts and art objects. These will be accompanied by a video installation titled PlasticWater. The second half of the exhibition will confront viewers with a large-scale, immersive installation created from the ubiquitous and overlooked plastics that flow in and out of daily life.  

Both gallery spaces will feature works sourced from non-recyclable plastics and single-use items generated by Phillips and her family over the course of nine months, with the addition of materials recovered from beaches in India, Iceland, Canada, and the US. This careful cataloging of our relationship with consumer items and plastics confirms the inescapable pervasiveness of this material, hidden in plain sight.

Phillips found inspiration for the exhibition during a five-month residency at the Recology Cleanscapes’ material recovery facility in Seattle. Throughout her residency, Phillips intercepted items that would otherwise have gone to the landfill and created works that call attention to their fate, sheer quantity, and initial purpose.

By focusing on single-use items and objects that have little or no repurposing value, Phillips questions their very necessity. These objects—to-go items, plastic wrap, snack bags, and the never ending packaging materials—surround us like silent ticking bombs, quiet reminders of the excesses of consumer society and the urgent need for a global response to the ecological crisis our societies face.



Maria Phillips is an artist and educator based in Seattle, Washington. Born in St. Louis, MO, Maria received her BA from Loyola University in New Orleans and her MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Art and Design New York, the Renwick Gallery - Smithsonian American Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Rotassa Foundation, and numerous private collections. In 2016, she was awarded the John and Joyce Price Award of Excellence from Bellevue Arts Museum and invited to return for a solo exhibition.

Maria Phillips: Hidden in Plain Sight is organized by Bellevue Arts Museum and curated by Lucile Chich. Exhibition sponsored in part by Macy's. Experiential Learning Sponsor: PCC Community Markets. Media sponsor: Crosscut. In-kind support from Seattle SignShop.



Bellevue Arts Museum provides a public forum for the community to contemplate, appreciate, and discuss visual culture. We work with audiences, artists, makers, and designers to understand our shared experience of the world.