The general theme embodied in my figurative sculpture is a sense of perseverance, optimism, and humor being embraced in the face of adversity.
I was raised on a family farm in California. Ever since I could hold a pencil in my hand I’ve been making art. My imagery grows out of my emotional and visual experiences of those early years. I’ve been away for over forty years but because those experiences are so ingrained in my subconscious all my dreams still take place on the farm. It was an extremely physical experience with livestock to tend, fields to work, equipment to repair and fences to mend, so it’s no wonder that as I got older my art shifted away from paper and gravitated towards a more physical expression: object making. My dad taught me to use the torch and arc welder at a young age and those immediately became my sculptural tools as I began creating artwork from discarded equipment and scrap metal. High School art classes afforded my first access to ceramics which still finds its way into some of my sculptures. While still employing those foundational materials and techniques, I continue to add new processes to my tool box as needed. I now also work with cast bronze, 3-D printing and more advanced fabrication tools.
I consider my work successful when the underlying concept is simple, deep seated, and universal enough that others are somehow affected, touched and moved by it.
David Phelps grew up on a family farm in California and attended First through Eight grade in a one room schoolhouse. He was encouraged to explore his artistic talent from a young age.
After graduating from Humboldt State University with a BA in Ceramics, Phelps moved to Norman, Oklahoma to attend The University of Oklahoma and received his MFA in sculpture in 1984. He was awarded a regional NEA Fellowship in 1985 and a six-month residency in the Kohler Arts/Industry program in Wisconsin in 1987. In 1988 he was awarded his first large-scale commission from Triad Development Co. in Knoxville, TN. He has since been commissioned to create large scale sculptures across the United States including the "Desert Wildlife" installation at the Gate D Terminal of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.
He’s done large scale commissions in Napa Valley, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, The University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in OKC.
His works are in the Sandor Family Collection, Chicago, IL, The Beretta Foundation, San Antonio, TX, Oklahoma City Art Museum, The Wornick Collection, and many more institutional collections.
Some notable private collectors of his work are Greg Norman, the late Burt Reynolds, Connie Sellecca and John Tesh, as well as Barbie Benton and her husband George Gradow. His works are represented in many other public and private collections across the United States, as well as in Australia, Europe, Canada, China, Mexico, and South America.