Artist and violinist finds room for creative expression in community

Phillip Gneiting

Phillip Gneiting 1967 –

Artist, violinist, teacher, and father of six, Phillip lives with his wife, Jenny (also an artist, and a violist and nurse), at Fox Hill Bruderhof in New York. Over the years he’s given plenty of thought to the unspoken drift in any organization toward conformity, to the place of the individual in relation to the community as a collective whole, and to the way that creative expression helps to counter this drift.

In living a busy communal life, it’s important for me to know that there’s a space I can enter and say, “This is my place, my time,” and get my paints out. I love to use recycled materials: wood, cardboard, old paints, whatever. My supplies don’t cost anything, so there are no limitations there. I don’t paint to make other people happy, and most of what I do is probably not very good, but I find the process very engaging.

My first commitment is to using my energies and resources for others. But painting allows me to step out of my routine now and then and just be absorbed in something else. I am not selling anything or making a statement, and I can’t guarantee that others are going to understand why it excites me. But that doesn’t matter: it’s important to be at peace with who you are.

I see my art as part of my struggle to understand life – as a search for beauty, or balance, or harmony, or whatever.

Some of us are naturally inclined to see the world in black and white. If you ask me, life has a lot more grey areas. Those are the ones I’m most concerned about. I see my art as part of my struggle to understand life – as a search for beauty, or balance, or harmony, or whatever. Actually, I’m not necessarily looking for harmony, because dissonance is part of beauty, and the shadows are part of it all too.

Jenny, Phillip’s wife, finishes a painting at home with their cat, Cassius.

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