Phyllis Gillie Jaffe

about the artist
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Growing up in the flat farmland of central Indiana, I saw horizontal bands of color, bright, subdued, in every imaginable range of yellow, red, green and blue. The abstract patterns that exist in nature where everything is reduced to mass, shape, color, pattern and texture become universal and symbolic. Those early experiences influence and reflect in my artwork today.

The Maryland Eastern Shore produces its own seasonal color palette, but the effect is equally exciting. My first visit to the Assateague Seashore Dunes spawned in Phyllis an instant love affair; the unique characteristics of these dunes and marshes express a new reality. Shaped and reshaped every year by storms, sand, salt and wind, they have retained their natural sense of wilderness. The struggle to live is almost palpable.

My paintings capture this raw beauty, so visitors can see this treasure through different eyes. A bit edgy, they express what I see and feel. The dunes are rugged, unkempt and slightly wild. The ocean breeze seems a bit nippier than that inland. I get few warm, fuzzy feelings from these drifting waves of sand. Painted with a palette knife, detail of the subject is sacrificed to mood; time and place every changing by the effect of light falling on the subject. If I ever tire of trying to capture the character of the dunes, the area is filled with graceful, meandering marshes to paint.

An earlier phase of my work is expressed in the design elements of two other series. Viewing open-heart surgery, as well as my personal health issues inspired the Heart Felt series. The Mythological and Abstract series represents a transition of my work from two-dimensional abstract, surface designs to impressions and interpretations of landscapes that parallel my spirituality maturity.

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about the artist

After a full career in education, teaching art at levels ranging from elementary school through university and then advancing in administration as a fine arts college presidency, Dr. Jaffe responded to a call to ordained ministry. The response took her in search of connecting factors between art and spirituality.

After retirement from presidency of Kendall College of Art and Design, Jaffe worked for many years as an international management
consultant to developing countries where she set up new women’s craft programs and regional art centers. Her work took her to the Eastern European countries, including two projects in Russia. Her longest assignment out of the country was spent in Nepal and India.

Jaffe’s style developed through a series of transformations from textile wall hangings to decorative symbolic images to landscape, drawings and paintings. She has received recognition and awards in the mid-west and east coast. Art remains her primary interest, where she continues painting, concentrating on developing her Impressionist style, and writing.

Her professional preparation is grounded in art and education degrees from Ball State University BA, Michigan State University MA, and Indiana University EdD and an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Kendall College of Art and Design. Jaffe served as Hospital Chaplaincy at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD and Sibley Memorial Hospital and George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC. Throughout her professional career, she produced and exhibited art at the local and national level. Friends, colleagues and a few art museums own her work. Retired, she paints and writes, while remaining active in regional arts organizations. She and her husband divide their time between Washington, DC and Salisbury, MD.


  • Terryberry Gallery, Grand Rapids, MI
  • All Soul’s Unitarian Church, Indianapolis, IN
  • Eye Opener Community Center, Cincinnati, OH
  • Art Institute & Gallery, Salisbury, MD
  • Holly Gallery, Maryland Federtation of Art,
  • Annapolis, MD
  • The Buttery, Lewes, DE
  • Jewish Community Center, Indianapolis, IN
  • Chasen Gallery, Sarasota, FL
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum, MI
  • Gallery Luisa, Grand Rapids, MI 1
  • Women in Art ‘76, West Bend, IA
  • Stitchery ‘75, IA, Invitational
  • Herron Art Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
  • International Women’s Art Festival
  • Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC Purchase Award
  • Sloane O’Slickery Gallery, OH
  • Matrix Gallery, Bloomington, IN
  • Stitchery ‘71, PA, Invitational
  • Third Piedmont Show, NC Purchase Award
  • Witherspoon Gallery, Greensboro, NC
  • Lansing Community College, MI 1966
  • Art League of Ocean City, Ocean City, MD
  • Watergate Gallery, Washington, DC
  • Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD
  • Race St. Gallery, Cambridge, MD
  • Gallery 213, Salisbury, MD
  • Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth, DE


  • Arts Administration Harvard University
  • New Presidents Workshop, University of Wisconsin
  • Art League of Ocean City, Honorable mention 2010
  • Art Institute and Gallery, Salisbury, Third Place 2010
  • Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Kendall College of Art & Design 1989
  • Leadership Michigan: State Chamber of Commerce
  • Distinguished Woman of the Arts Award, Michigan
  • Community Leader Award, Grand Rapids, Chamber of Commerce
  • Stylemaker of the Year, Michigan Cosmetologist Award
  • National Collection of Fine Arts Project HUD
  • Faculty Summer Fellowship, Indiana University
  • Faculty Summer Research Fellowship, University of North Carolina
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