SADA Professors Share Their Inspiration at Faculty Art Exhibit

Sometimes students in Liberty’s Department of Studio & Digital Arts forget that their professors are artists, too. Professors in the art department got a chance to show off their skills with the launch of the “Faculty Exhibit” on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

Among the artists was professor of photography, William Isaacson, and professor of graphic design, Kelsey Phillips.

Isaacson is known for covering photography for Liberty’s football and basketball teams, but at the exhibit his work displayed a variety of aged, vintage car parts—a distinct visual from a popular junkyard that has always caught his eye.

“I’m inspired by old, rusted, dilapidated things and showing the current condition of them instead of the way they were when they were brand new,” Isaacson said.

He believes that photography of vintage items shows a lot of history and also tells a story.

When photographing, Isaacson looks for light shining from an angle to bring out the subject’s vibrant color, particularly the color of rust on the vintage junkyard cars shown in his work at the exhibit. His photos are printed on metallic paper to bring out the color even more.

The photography professor was mentored and inspired by the works of Bill Fortney who first introduced him to the junkyard scene.

According to his biography on Liberty’s faculty page, Isaacson has more than 30 years of experience as a professional photographer and has been teaching photography at Liberty since 1995.

Isaacson’s love for capturing photos has grown and immersed into his love for teaching. He is always willing to lend an encouraging word to his students.

“Don’t do what you think everybody wants you to do, but do what you want to do and the audience for your work will find you,” Isaacson said. “If you try to be a jack of all trades and please everybody, you’ll end up pleasing nobody. Do what you like first and when you share it, the audience is going to come to you.”

Isaacson has a master’s degree in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, a bachelor’s in journalism from Liberty University and has received a certificate of professional photography from the New York Institute of Photography.

Graphic design professor Kelsey Phillips has been interested in illustrating for a couple years. She noticed there were a lot of hand-lettered or custom-drawn letterforms showing up on book covers, posters and other prominent works and found calligraphy to be a viable option for her as an illustrator.

Her work at the showcase involved prints, lettering, postcards and wall art. She has a love for the creative process, but coming up with what to create isn’t always the easiest.

“The hardest part is figuring out what you want to say because this is verbal, these are words,” Phillips said. “It really comes down to (knowing) if you have anything to say and what you want your message to be.”

Having the opportunity to guide students into finding their own creative voice has always been a goal of hers. Philips believes that the journey of self-discovery in art is one that should be embraced through the ups and the downs, the successes and the failures.

“Look at what’s being done and definitely study it,” Phillips said. “The more practice you do, the more sensitive you’re gonna get to some things that might be working or not working in your composition.”

Phillips has followed the works of Jessica Hische, Louise Fili and Drew Melton, noting them as her means of inspiration.

According to her faculty biography, Phillips is the Founder and Creative Director of Clever & Bright: lettering and illustration and has had her work published as a Cover Illustrator for HarperCollins in 2014.

The graphic design professor illustrates for God to receive the glory and hopes that others see the gift of words that he has given her not just through her art, but also through her heart.

The Faculty Exhibit runs through Feb. 24, 2017 in the Green Hall gallery.

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