Murray State University Galleries to host three alumni exhibits

By Alex Pologruto | Jan 25, 2022

Samples from one of the upcoming exhibits

Clockwise from top left: Untitled, Charles Bennett. (oil pastel on paper, 1978); Operation Stalemate II, Jerry B. Phillips (Paper, wood, foam, rice, aluminum, and steel; 2017); A Thing Already Named, Sarah Phyllis Smith. (archival pigment inkjet print, 2021); Untitled, Douglas Degges (acrylic on panel, 2021).

MURRAY, Ky. — As part of Murray State University’s centennial in 2022, the Murray State University Galleries and the Department of Art & Design are pleased to present work by various alumni of the institution. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Tuesdays until 8 p.m. and Thursdays until 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. 


Recollections, work from the Permanent Collection of University Galleries, is on view now through Feb. 14 in the Mary Ed Mecoy Hall Gallery located inside the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building on Murray State’s campus. This exhibition has been co-curated by Mike Martin, Director of University Galleries, and recent student gallery workers featuring a selection of alumni works. 

Artists whose works are featured include: 

    • Jim Alexander
    • Rick Arrowood
    • Charles Bennett
    • Debi Henry Danielson
    • Kate Hoffman
    • Dennis Horn
    • John Frederick
    • Leonard Kik
    • Carmean Mercado
    • Wes Mills
    • Sandy Miller Sasso
    • Brent Skidmire
    • Kaiti Slater
    • Laurie Waite-Fellner
    • Brenda Weyerbacher
    • Jimmy Wright

Student co-curators include: 

    • Krizianna Groves
    • Jessie Lawrence
    • CJ Nance
    • Sydney Robinson
    • Gretchen Ruth
    • Skyler Stewart
    • Aaliyah Vincent
Landlocked: Redux

Landlocked: Redux, work by Murray State alumnus Jerry Bedor Phillips, ‘07, will be on view from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24 in the Clara M. Eagle Main Gallery located inside the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building on Murray State’s campus. 
Phillips works in a variety of media, from drawing and printmaking to etched plexiglass. His work is created in self-reflections and thoughts of a landlocked Pacific Islander addressing family, heritage and self-identity. Using the simple origami technique to create paper boats and drawings with ink, this exhibition peeks into historical events at the end of World War II in the Pacific Islands, which eventually led to the immigration of many Pacific Islander families to the American mainland – specifically Phillips’ own family.

Phillips is an artist living and creating in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the building manager, studio assistant and gallery coordinator for the Vanderbilt University Department of Art and for Space 204, the contemporary gallery space located in the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and drawing from Murray State in 2007 and his Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and drawing from Bradley University in 2010.

Work by Phillips has appeared in exhibitions across the United States, with group shows at the Frist Art Museum, OZ Arts Nashville and Red Arrow Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. Recent venues include the Davis Gallery at Montgomery Bell Academy and Space 204 at Vanderbilt University. His work has also been exhibited in Red Garage Studios in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Gallery 336B at Illinois Central College – East Peoria Campus; Catapult Creative House at Southeastern Missouri State University; The Art Gallery (TAG) at Fayetteville Technical Community College, North Carolina and the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky. He has also exhibited internationally in small group shows in Melbourne, Australia, and Turin, Italy. For more information about Phillips and his work, please visit

dirt from here and dirt from there

dirt from here and dirt from there, a two-person exhibit featuring the work of artists Sarah Phyllis Smith, Murray State alumna, ‘08, and Douglas Degges, will be on view from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24 in the Clara M. Eagle Main Gallery.  

Sarah Phyllis Smith's work is grounded in photography’s inherent relationship with nostalgia and the ways in which a photograph can ask us to look backwards while remaining grounded in the present. Stemming from autobiographical experiences, her work explores expectations of and attachment to personal photographic images through a slow and considered documentation of personal objects, interior spaces and the landscape. Each image functions as a timestamp and landmark that exists beyond a known chronology. Smith creates images that achieve in moments the same weight that is gained from an image or object that is lived with over time. In their accumulation, a larger narrative that blends truth, poetry and abstraction hums beneath the surface. Smith's work mirrors how the space within a photograph becomes a stage in which the past, present and future become the same moment.

Smith, born in Middletown, New York, is a photographer and educator based in Utica, New York, where she is Assistant Professor of Photography at PrattMWP. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Where the Great Lakes Leap to the Sea at The Shed Space in Brooklyn, New York and Fish Hotel at Vanderbilt University. Smith’s work has recently been shown at Perspectives Gallery at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Ground Floor Gallery in Nashville,Tennessee, Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, Roman Susan Gallery and Wedge Projects in Chicago, Illinois. Her work has been featured in several online and print publications including Silver Eye Center for Photography, From Here On Out, Don’t Take Pictures Magazine, Light Leaked, Vulgaris Magazine, Photo-Emphasis and Incandescent Magazine. Smith’s artwork was also featured on the cover of Iranian literary magazine, Dastan. In 2021 she was an artist-in-residence at Stove Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Smith received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art – Photography from Murray State University in 2008.  She also received her Masters degree in Photography in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography, both from the University of Iowa.  For more information, please visit

The works included in this exhibition are a part of Douglas Degges' recent project: a squirrel from memory. The smaller works on paper are more literal and time-intensive translations of printed photographic images, mostly of the northern Louisiana landscape, fish, small game, rodents and pests. These photographic images are digitally prepared, occasionally collaged and present a far more articulated visual language than the paintings. The drawings are his way of studying an image and internalizing form. The paintings are either crafted from memory with whatever is held onto from the drawing process or approached in a fast-paced and painterly way, much like a study. Degges is interested in how the paintings undo the drawings and how these disparate modes of inquiry might posit "the work" somewhere in between the paintings and the drawings. "[T]his requires some averaging or leveling across the visually and materially divergent objects that comprise a squirrel from memory,” said Degges.

Degges, born in Shreveport, Louisiana, is an artist and educator currently based in Mansfield Center, Connecticut, where he is an Assistant Professor of Art in Painting and Drawing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. Douglas received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. His work has been exhibited in various group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Most recently his work was exhibited at Side Room Gallery in Brooklyn, New York; the PrattMWP Gallery at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York; Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleaner Gallery + Projects in Chicago, Illinois; Stove Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. His work has been supported by several artist residencies including the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, Stove Works, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Millay Colony.  For more information about him and his work, please visit

Murray State continues to adhere to state, federal and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines for the health and safety of its campus and broader community. These include following the Racer Safe and Healthy Guidelines, including social distancing and the required use of face masks/coverings while indoors. The Racer Safe and Healthy Guidelines, along with additional information, is available online at

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