Artist + Designer Spotlight: Sarah Nicole Phillips

November 19, 2012 | Alex

Next up in the Artist + Desinger Spotlight, Toronto-born and Brooklyn-based Sarah Nicole Phillips. I discovered Sarah through a family friend and was immediately smitten with her security envelope collages. I love that Sarah's work is both beautiful and socially relevant, without being too heavy-handed. (For explicit socio-political themes, see her series of silver halide photographic and screen prints, entitled "ATMs".)

Sarah on her collages, made from discarded security envelopes:

These works conflate imagery of plant life with the hard edges, linear repetition and angles suggestive of man-made infrastructure and human-imposed order. Security envelopes obscure their own contents. It is impossible to read what is inside, even when they are held up to light. Offset and imprecise patterns inside these envelopes create a scrim which serves as a decorative backdrop to our everyday bureaucratic tangles.
Shapes of flora in these collages echo the security envelope’s intended use as camouflage to hide private documents. Vines, fungus and grasses twist and push out from cellophane windows suggesting indifference to the veneer of professionalism that official-looking paperwork can convey. Encroaching plant life calls attention to the living, wild source of paper fiber, the ecology of bureaucracy, and an ever-present, yet obscured wilderness despite the imposed order of a decontextualized civic life.
These are dystopian landscapes offered at a time of increasing mistrust toward corporations and financial institutions, alongside mounting pressures of unpaid bills, overdue contracts and increasing fees. Security Landscapes tears opens process and order to reveal the underlying wilderness.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces from Sarah's portfolio:


  1. Phases of a Peanut Butter Cup Wrapper, 4.5" x 19" print (2010) - $390 (framed w/ plexi)
  2. Enclosed, 15' x 22" security envelope collage (2009) - Sold, Private Collection
  3. Sunbeam, 11" x 15" aquatint with crushed photovaltaic cells (2007) - $490 (unframed)
  4. Untitled (Trees Beaming Away), 20" x 29" security envelope collage (2012) - $3,500 (unframed)
  5. Security Horizon #7, 10" x 23" security envelope collage (2012) -$600 (unframed)
  6. Past Dew, 15" x 22" security envelope collage (2009)