Phyllis Thelen

Phyllis Thelen

Artist’s Statement

I am an experimental artist creating sculptural forms out of organic materials, including barks, pods, plant stalks, banana leaves, bamboo shields and shells. The materials themselves suggest an idea, they tell me their stories, and I capture them in the form that the materials suggest.

My sculptures seem to take three basic forms: vessels, creatures, and sanctuaries. The vessel, a symbol of passage and transformation, suggests imaginary journeys of the spirit. The creatures appear as unusual beings encountered along the way. The sanctuaries are places of refuge for the soul in search of serenity in a turbulent world.

I live in the process, and take my own journey as I create. It is my hope that there are others who dream as I do. Through my art they may escape to serene places of the planet and the mind, and take peace and pleasure from time spent there.


Phyllis Thelen received her B.A. in Art from Connecticut College, and continued her education at the Art Institute of San Francisco, Dominican University of California, and the Miasa Bunka Center in Japan, where she studied with Toshi Yoshida. Phyllis received an honorary Ph.D. from Dominican University in 2002.

Phyllis’ work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums. These include “Spirit Vessels,” a solo exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. She was also a featured artist in a group show at Arts Benecia, juried by Lawrence Rinder of the Berkeley Art Museum. Additional exhibitions include the Quilt and Textile Museums of San Jose, CA, the Napa Valley Museum, the Gallery Strasse in Japan, the Presidio of San Francisco, and Dominican University, Falkirk Cultural Center, Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, CA. and Art Works Downtown in San Rafael, CA.