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 art is propelled by the notion of historical cycles and the way that images and ideas reverberate across time, often through shared materials, tools, and working methods. Here at Wellesley I teach all levels of printmaking and drawing and enjoy exploring the connections between the graphic arts and other creative disciplines with my students.

Albrecht Dürer’s print oeuvre has been a catalyst for many of my own projects, including “Traveler: Angel with Sudarium”, an etched copper piece based upon one of his prints in the Fogg Museum.

"Traveler: Angel with Sudarium, (after Dürer)"

I find something poetic in the mechanisms of a print studio and am fascinated with the way that ideas can be taken apart, distilled, and expanded through a shift of context as well as dialogue. I value the kind of knowledge that can be developed by way of the hand as well as the eye and believe that a liberal arts education can be an advantage for an artist.



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 are complex, requiring the orchestration of many elements and sometimes, multiple hands.

In the Wellesley studios, we can print etchings from copper plates, relief prints from wood, linoleum, and plastic, lithographs from limestone, polyester and aluminum plates and screenprint onto various surfaces. We bind our own books and print text from lead, photopolymer and wood type. Some of our projects integrate digital processes with hand printing in unconventional ways. In addition to Dactyl Press, our main printmaking studio on the top floor of Pendleton West, we have dedicated spaces for our large format digital printers, a laser cutter, as well as a paper and screenprint facility. Virtually all of the graphic techniques that we employ were once cutting edge technology, but even the most antique printing methods carry fresh potential thanks to renewed experimentation and collaboration among artists.

However, 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 ongoing studio dialogue whenever a project is underway. Learning to make prints in a shared printshop encourages one to think through multiple options in conversation and coordination with others. Students drawn to this medium tend to be quintessential liberal arts students, and find that their hands-on experience in the print studio enhances their creativity and depth of thought in a range of disciplines.

Phyllis McGibbon
Elizabeth Christy Kopf Professor of Studio Art


  • B.F.A., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
  • M.F.A., University of Wisconsin (Madison)

Current and upcoming courses

  • An intermediate studio course addressing a range of contemporary drawing methods, with considerable attention put towards color, graphic sequencing and pictorial space. Project work integrates print and digital design tools with sustained freehand drawing in wet and dry media. Weekly drawing assignments, readings, and studio discussions consider the graphic conventions of reproducible media, such as the hatched mark, halftone screen, and color separation layer. Building on fundamental concepts introduced at the 100 level, this course helps students strengthen and expand their personal drawing practice and connect it to a wider range of creative disciplines and topics. Following a series of coordinated drawing projects, each student assembles a final portfolio and presents an independent final project. (ARTS 205 and MAS 205 are cross-listed courses.)