Phyllis McGibbon

Phyllis McGibbon
(781) 283-3364
B.F.A., M.F.A., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
Phyllis McGibbon
Elizabeth Christy Kopf Professor of Art

Visual artist working in a range of graphic media, i.e. prints, drawings, artist books, photomontages, and installations.

Much of my studio work is propelled by the notion of historical cycles and the way that certain preoccupations and images travel between artists and across time. Albrecht Dürer’s print oeuvre has been a catalyst for many projects, including “Fold”, a construction in leather and fabric that reconsiders his famous woodcut presenting the fundamentals of perspective, and “Traveler: Angel with Sudarium”, copper piece based upon a lesser known etching by Dürer in the Fogg Museum. My most recent series, “Glimpses and Ruminations” considers some of the aspirations and dilemmas associated with travel, tourism, and “the grand tour” at a time of unprecedented cultural mobility and global exchange.

"Traveler: Angel with Sudarium, After Dürer", etched copper

"Traveler: Angel with Sudarium, After Dürer", etched copper

Here at Wellesley I teach all levels of printmaking and drawing, and have developed a number of concept driven studio courses, such as “Spatial Investigations”, and “Art and Travel”. I value the kind of knowledge that can be gained through the hand as well as the eye, and believe that a liberal arts education can be an advantage for an artist. I’m currently serving as Director of the Studio Art Program, and often work closely with students pursuing Architecture majors. 

One aspect that draws me to printmaking is the kind of creative energy and momentum so often generated by those sharing use of a print studio. This semester I am co-teaching ARTS 322, Advanced Print Concepts with Katherine McCanless-Ruffin, Director of the Book Arts Lab, so we have all of the graphic arts facilities at Wellesley-i.e. lithography, etching, relief, letterpress, papermaking, bookbinding, and photo digital methods, open to the same group of students at once. Many of these students have accompanied me to the NYC print fairs in recent years and some will attend the Southern Graphics Council International conference in March.

Media Bio


Most original prints begin with the creation of a printing matrix, i.e. a plate, block, stone, or stencil that is used to transfer ink from one surface to another in a repeatable manner. Some prints are very simple and direct, involving perhaps a single matrix, but others demand relatively complex procedures and the orchestration of many elements. 

At Wellesley College, we print etchings from copper plates, relief prints from wood, linoleum, and plastic, and lithographs from limestone, polyester and aluminum plates. We bind our own books and print text from lead type. Some of our activities combine photographic and digital processes with hand printing in unconventional ways. In addition to our main printmaking studio in Pendleton West, we have a papermaking facility, a letterpress studio, a digital media lab, and large format digital printers. Virtually all of the techniques that we use were once cutting edge graphic technology, but even the most antique printing methods carry fresh potential thanks to renewed experimentation and collaboration among artists. 

To speak of printmaking simply in terms of its tools or methods would be to miss one of its most important cultural legacies - the spirit of communal effort, creative collaboration and studio dialogue. Learning to make prints in a shared print studio encourages one to think through multiple options, often in conversation with others. Students drawn to this medium tend to be quintessential liberal arts students, and find that printmaking enhances their work in a range of creative disciplines.

Phyllis McGibbon
Professor of Studio Art