Spotlight: Rachel Phillips

Posted on Dec 21, 2012

The holiday season is in full swing here at the Catherine Couturier Gallery (formerly John Cleary Gallery) and we have been happily receiving cards from clients and artists alike expressing wishes of holiday cheer.  More than any other time of year, the holidays tend to bring out the lost art form of letter writing in all of us, be it snail mail or electronic. 

This past year we added California based Rachel Phillips to our roster of fine art photographers, and word has quickly spread about her work, which incorporates vintage envelopes and letters as both the subject of and medium onto which her delightfully unique pieces are printed. 

 Rachel Phillips - Piano and Music

 Piano and Music


In her most recent monthly column, American Connection, for Black & White Photography (UK), Catherine Couturier Gallery artist Susan Burnstine explores the work and process behind Phillips’ Field Notes series:

“[…] Phillips assembled paper houses, photographed them outdoors, learned the transfer-printing process and considered a unique application for this unpredictable technique. Subsequently, the concept of printing her photographs on to envelopes was born in what she experienced as a ‘Eureka!’ moment. Following a number of failed attempts with the process she determined the images photographed  in snow worked best since the negative space of snow allowed details on the envelope to be revealed through the photograph printed on top. 

Phillips decided to print on envelopes for a variety of reasons. She explains, ‘I find the age and human qualities of the envelopes poignant and evocative: names, places (big  20th century population centres like NYC and Chicago, and small towns I’ve never heard of), dates, handwriting, even ink stains or the way an edge was torn open. Sherlock Holmes could probably describe a whole life from one of these old envelopes. Also, it speaks of how meaningful correspondence was that these pieces of paper have been saved so long – sometimes over 100 years. They’re human, and tactile, and make history personal.' "

 Rachel Phillips - Frog Par Avion

Frog par avion


Rachel Phillips - Yellow Walker

Yellow Walker


 For a little insight into how these darling pieces are made, check out this video of Rachel in her studio: 



To see our entire collection of available works by Rachel, please visit her artist page here.  Our readers in the Houston area are also invited to see her work currently on the wall in our annual holiday show, Deck the Walls, up through January 5th.  Should you have any further questions regarding these or any other of our fine art photographs, please email us at, call at 713.524.5070 or stop by the gallery in person!

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