Making the Transition from 2D to Public Art – Cat Chiu Phillips

Artists, students, educators, and creative leaders gathered on Earth Day, April 22, 2019 at College of the Desert to celebrate the art installation Power Plants by COD alumna, artist and educator Cat Chiu Phillips.  The installation is made possible by an ArtsTank Greater Palm Springs grant from California Desert Arts Council and presented in partnership with College of the Desert in Palm Desert.

Attendees connect at Artist Reception


Power Plants
is an art installation mimicking desert life growth that Cat created entirely from discarded electronic waste using weaving and crochet techniques. Inspired by the Japanese term mottainai, which conveys a sense of regret about waste, Phillips calls attention to the 49.8 million tons of worldwide e-waste generation that was expected in 2018 and the annual growth rate, which is forecasted up to 5 percent. Phillips hopes to affect the choices consumers make to address the e-waste crisis.

Phillips, a San Diego-based artist and educator, grew up in Manila and moved to Toronto when she was 11 years old. After her freshman year in high school, her family moved to the Coachella Valley, and she enrolled at Cathedral City High School. Phillips continued her arts education, earning an associate’s degree in studio art at College of the Desert; a bachelor’s degree in studio art, with a minor in art history, from University of California, Riverside; and an MFA in new genre from San Francisco Art Institute. Cat is a past visual arts scholarship recipient of La Quinta Arts Foundation, which funded the initial ArtsTank award.

Cat Chiu Phillips presenting her artist talk

Following a reception, Cat presented an artist talk, “Making the Transition from 2D to Public Art,” sharing insights on her evolution from a printmaker to an installation artist. She also offered key takeaways from her multi-disciplinary projects and public art commissions.

Click here to view her presentation.

Attendees posed thoughtful questions regarding her creative process (Which comes first—the public site, or the art?), use of materials (Has plarn (“plastic yarn”) been used to create items such as clothing?), and broader inquiries into environmental art and public art.

These activities are part of Arts, Culture & Creativity Month, led by Californians for the Arts, the statewide advocacy organization.

Power Plants is on view thru August 2, 2019 at the Art Department Lobby of College of the Desert, located at 45-300 Monterey Ave. in Palm Desert. Visiting hours: Monday thru Friday, 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. The COD Spring semester ends May 24, 2019. Visiting hours beyond this point need approval. Contact Tina Gonzalez,Administrative Assistant, Social Sciences & Arts – 760.773.2574, tigonzalez@collegeofthedesert.edu