From one art to another

David Jacobson

From one art  to another | by PhillipsLast semester senior Stephen Phillips was playing soccer on dirt fields with balls that weren’t fully pumped up, and against people wearing no shoes.   On Sat. Sept. 12, he was back playing under the lights on a pristine field wearing his cleats.   The latter event was Walla Walla, last semester was Ghana.

Phillips, a co-captain of the soccer team, is a studio art major that decided to take advantage of the study abroad system and study art in Ghana.

“I knew that art would definitely be more functional there,” Phillips said.   “It would be a different type, it would be more day-to-day use.”   By day-to-day use, he means that many objects were made to carry items on your head.   An aspect that Phillips enjoyed about Ghana was that there were so many types of art in the country.

“There is both European influenced art, traditional Ghanaian art, and contemporary Ghanaian art that is a mix of both traditional Ghanaian and European art,” he said.

While studying in Ghana, Phillips spent a great amount of time studying traditional African art.   Daily life was also a drastic change for him.   The laid back lifestyle was welcome in comparison to the stressful life he lives in Walla Walla. Daily tasks were also extremely different.   “Not every shower was out of a bucket, but there were a lot of showers out of them,” Phillips said.

When it comes to art and soccer, Phillips believes that what is created on a soccer field is also an art.   “Soccer really is an art form especially when you create things as a team,” he said.   “It is a type of art and watching some of the best players in the world you notice that.”   In addition to the parallels between soccer and art, Phillips said that his interest in art has helped shape his view on soccer.   “You can watch many countries and they all have different styles that are very artful.   And just like in art some styles are more fun to watch,” he said.

Not only his coach, but teammates share Phillips’ view on how soccer is an art.   “When you are coaching 26 players you need everyone to see the same picture that you are trying to create,” Head Coach Mike Washington said.   “When you see soccer flowing like it is able to, it truly is an art.”   Brother and teammate Greg Phillips sees parallels between the way Steve plays and his art.

“I can totally see soccer like one of his paintings or murals where all of the different colors and techniques work together,” he said.   “It is not all about one individual aspect but the whole effect of different combinations.”

By being the captain of the soccer team Phillips has spent a lot of time with his teammates.   Because of this, it is sometimes hard for him to balance art and soccer.

“After four years I have committed so much to the team and you bond so much with everyone, so soccer is definitely one of my priorities,” he said.   “Soccer sometimes even comes before schoolwork.   By doing that you may have to work later or find other times to work, where you can get your work done.”   However, he has found that balance which has allowed him to thrive both academically and athletically.

Now back in Walla Walla his teammates and coaches have noticed a change in Steve.   From a soccer standpoint teammate Jasper Lipton has noticed a drastic change.

“I think that from his time in Ghana he has gotten calmer on the field, and definitely he has gotten stronger on the ball,” he said.   “He is also much more of a captain on the field, especially the way he takes control of the game.”

Off the field, Washington and Greg Phillips believe that Steve has changed as well.

“I saw in him, what I think, that travel in general does, it makes you more grateful for what you have,” Washington said.   Brother Greg saw similar things.

“He commented on how lucky and blessed we are to have the opportunities in this country, but also with our family,” he said.   “It was an eye-opener.   I feel that any time you go to a developing country you have one of those experiences.”