Jerry Bedor Phillips
The Women Walked for the Islands, 2020
Graphite, color pencil, banana leaf paper, binders board
Book Bound and Determined / August 15 – 20, 2021
The Women Walked for the Islands depicts a small part of a larger story that began centuries ago, the islands of Micronesia were first settled. Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania located in the western portion of the Pacific Ocean. The Republic of Palau is one of the island chains in this territory and has experienced centuries of colonization by foreign governing bodies beginning with the Spanish in the 16th century followed by Germany under the terms of the Spanish-German treaty, then captured by Japan after World War I and finally administered to the United States following World War II by the United Nations as part of the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands in 1947. Each colonizing entity saw Palau as a strategic location in the Pacific for trade, agriculture, and imposed their culture onto to the people, forcing changes to social structures already established by the locals. It was not until October 1, 1994 that Palau was declared an independent country freely associated with the United States established through the Compact of Free Association between to the two governments.
This book marks the efforts led by the determined Palauan women whose courage and resilience helped fuel the desire to take back control of their land and waters. Their collective outreach to others in their lands educated and helped take a stand in keeping Palau free of nuclear weapons following the devastating nuclear bomb experimentation in the Marshall Islands that resulted in the contamination and destruction of Bikini Atoll. Their grassroots effort is widely given credit as a major movement toward Palau’s self-determination shaping the Palau’s constitution and keeping nuclear weapon/testing out of the territory despite the US efforts to convince the people otherwise.
Jerry Bedor Phillips is an artist living and creating in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the building manager, studio assistant, and gallery coordinator for the Vanderbilt University Department of Art. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and drawing from Murray State University and his Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and drawing from Bradley University. His book binding experience includes several workshops and classes with artists Nicole Hand and Beth Linn and working as a book repair technician with conservator Ana Lyra in the Special Collections area of the Cullum Davis Library at Bradley University.