Staff Spotlight: Phillip Alvy

Last edited June 3, 2020

May 27, 2020 

This week Phillip Alvy talks working with teens and getting his MFA at Emerson College.


A: Tell us about yourself and your role at Community Art Center.

P: My name is Phillip. I am from California. I just got my Masters from Emerson College

in Visual Media Arts. I am very interested in Education and Filmmaking and kind of figuring

out how those two things go together, specifically with High School students. That led me to CAC’s DIYDS!! Film Festival where I worked as the, what is my title even? I call myself the Assistant Coordinator, Boss….every time I write it down, I write something different. Since I have started working on the online festival, I’ve been calling myself Festival Coordinator. Basically, I work with, it’s been one of the coolest experiences ever, a group of teenagers curating the festival and making decisions about how the festival is gonna operate and just helping facilitate all of that.


A: How do you exercise creativity in and outside of the classroom?

P: Luckily, I am a very creative person. Creativity is one of my favorite things that exists in the world and that is how I found filmmaking at a young age. It was a creative outlet for me and so, as an artist, outside of the classroom, I was a student up until two weeks ago, getting a degree focused on art and creativity, really learning everything I could. I love writing, I love filmmaking, painting. That’s all outside of the classroom. Inside of the classroom, I’m lucky, because the class I teach is filmmaking which is a creative endeavor, but with the festival it’s been fun to find creative activities within the mundane activities we have to do. One of those things was figuring out a creative way of how to do our curation process, which is a very clinical process. With Jensun and the students, we found a creative way to do that which was more ranking and discussion-based experience. It wasn’t a creative art, but rather a creative solution. In terms of DIYDS!!, there are a lot of creative projects, we had to do a website and trailer, graphic design, and social media, these things that are creative but from a business point of view. Stuff like: what is content? What is branding? It is creative, but business-oriented. I’m still trying to find the hybrid with the students. 


A: I wish I could join. 


P: It’s fun because it is not a formal teaching environment. It’s like here is our loose goal for today. They always try to negotiate.


A: What would you say is your favorite part of working with youth and working at Community Art Center?

P: Youth is great. The difference is: kids, teens, anyone who’s still in school, is not jaded from the real world, I’ve learned. They still have this creative spark and this mentality that anything is possible, especially in filmmaking and storytelling. They always ask, "What is the biggest idea? What if aliens took over the world?” Adults are much less prone to asking, “Well, what if?” Everyone who is still developing is very open to creative ideas and not questioning those ideas as much. Specifically, filmmaking is a lot of fun to teach to kids, because they’re willing to do whatever, there’s no stopping them. There are no dumb ideas. Another thing is, they’re so excited because they consume so much content, but there is a fascination behind how it’s made. Adults get it or don’t really care, but kids have this fascination. It’s fun to go on that journey with them. Working at Community Art Center is fun, because DIYDS!! isn’t a traditional class, it’s a work-study program. The teens are making all the decisions. Jensun and I are just there to guide them along. “We have to pick a t-shirt design by the end of the day.” We aren’t telling them how it needs to look or how the design needs to be done. I’ve never been in an environment like that before. It’s stressful, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience.


A: Where can people find your art?

P: So I had a museum-based installation for my thesis at school, and then in March, they said that wasn’t going to be a possibility. So then I had a decision to make, which was wait until it was a possibility and risk not graduating, or reinvent my idea for an online world. I basically spent a month and a half building a website and taking this physical thing I had built and turning it into an online world. My portfolio is online at


A: What is it? 

P: It’s about my grandmother. She died last summer and left all this art for my sister and I. So my idea was to take all this content she created and reinvent it and redesigning it into new art. Taking all these photos, and sketches, and paintings, and recreating them. There was gonna be wallpaper and all these TVs with different screens and it was gonna be very interactive, but I am happy with the way it turned out. I got to use a lot more of her work. 


A: I’d love to look at it. So what have you been up to recently?

P: Up until two weeks ago, I was finishing my degree, which was intense. Now I am focusing on the film festival with Jensun. I’m gonna take a break for a while. Everyone went inside and I was inside, but trying to finish my degree! 


A: Well, best of luck to you on the festival. Thank you for your time!

P: Thanks!


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119 Windsor Street, Cambridge, MA 02139  I  617-868-7100

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