Artist and Playwright Dr. Phyllis Yes


Phyllis  Yes has always pushed boundaries. Much of her art openly subverts the  expected, whether it’s gender roles or physical materials, utilizing  lace and sequins alongside objects that are traditionally seen as  masculine. Perhaps her most recognizable work is a silver 1967 Porsche  that she painted pink, covered in lace, and drove across the country as a  mobile art piece. On April 18 in Decorah, Iowa, Dr. Yes will have the  Midwestern debut of her new work as a playwright: "Good Morning, Miss  America!" Her play takes viewers on an autobiographical trip through the  realities of aging and the demands of family life.

A native of Austin, Minnesota, and  graduate of Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa, Yes came to Portland in  1978 when she became a professor of art at Lewis & Clark College.  She led the college’s off-campus program in New York City, which focuses  on exposing students to the city’s unique artistic and theatrical  history.

Yes taught at Lewis & Clark for two decades, serving  as chair of the art department and dean of arts and humanities, before  becoming professor emerita of art, painting, and drawing in 1998. Her  frequent support of live theatre developed into an interest in writing  for it, and, in 2015, she began work on a play based on her experiences  caring for her aging parents. Good Morning, Miss America follows Jane,  an independent artist taking care of her mother while navigating a  complex web of family obligations, including an irascible father-in-law  and an absent sister.

“No one wants to talk about aging,” said  Yes. “Caregiving can be riddled with complications: guilt,  responsibility, unanswered questions, mistakes, dysfunctional family  dynamics, and sibling rivalry, among others. I wanted to share real-life  challenges of caring for aging parents, and to spark conversation and  action preparing for their later years.”

The two-act play has  already resonated with audiences, reaching the semifinals of the Artists  Repertory Theatre’s Table/Room/Stage competition in 2016 and selling  out shows well in advance. It was met with great success in it's premiere at the Coho Theater in Portland, March, 2018. 

“I’m thrilled!” said Yes of the play’s success. “My story is not unlike  millions of others, those facing the all-too-familiar scenario of  caring for elderly parents. This play is for anyone who has parents or  is a parent themselves.”