Interview produced by documentary filmmaker Stefanie Leland 


David Phelps grew up on a family farm in California. He attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse on Roberts Island where his elementary teacher, Mrs. MacIntosh, taught him first through eighth grade. 

Katie Feck, who owned a neighboring farm and was a self-taught oil painter introduced Phelps to the concept of “Art.” Both Katie and Mrs. MacIntosh encouraged him to explore his artistic talent from a young age.

After graduating from Humboldt State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Ceramics Phelps moved to Norman, Oklahoma in 1980 to attend graduate school 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. After finishing at Kohler, he was awarded his first large-scale commission from Triad Development Co. in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has since been commissioned to create large scale sculpture across the United States including the "Desert Wildlife" installation at the Gate D Terminal of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.

His most recent large-scale commissions have gone to Minneapolis, Kansas 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 and many more institutional collections. (see resume)

Some notable private collectors of his work are Golfer Greg Norman, 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, China, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and South America.

“The imagery of my figurative bronze sculpture is rooted in my early years growing up on the family farm on Roberts Island in the California Delta. Surrounded by water and threatened by drought I was unknowingly developing my lifelong aesthetic foundation. My figurative bronzes, ranging up to four times life-size, appear to emerge from the ground. They are serenely contemplative, and each piece is imbued with a dry, subtle sense of humor.”
— David Phelps