Suburbs & Satire Exploring the Narrative Work of Pat Phillips

Pat Phillips, DIGGERS / The Procession, 2018, Acrylic, pencil, oil pastel, airbrush, aerosol paint on canvas, Collection of Michael Wilkinson

Pat Phillips was born in Lakenheath, England in 1987. He moved to Louisiana as a child and spent his youth painting and photographing box cars. He grew up in a middle-class suburb among four other black families and his father worked at Angola Prison. As a result, Phillips’ satirical work consisted of the deep social injustices and disconnections. 

Phillips’ work reflects many of his experiences throughout life. Drawing from the the racial chasms of the justice system and his personal life, his artwork contains narratives that explore a black perspective while growing up in a middle class setting painting graffiti. At first glance, some of his paintings seem nothing more than Phillips reflecting on his experiences, but as you continue to examine his work, you notice a deeper meaning behind the dark and rank colors used. His work consists of missing context, but with in-depth imagery his work is understood.

His first solo exhibition, SubSuperior (Catinca Tabacaru Gallery (New York, NY), consisted of disembodied hands, legs and feet engaging in menial labor. From there he went on to conduct other solo exhibitions such as ROOTS (Antenna Gallery, New Orleans, LA) and Told You Not to Bring That Ball (Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA). Phillips has also been discreetly active in the graffiti subculture for almost 20 years.

You can come see Phillip’s work DIGGERS / The Procession on view now in the Ogden Museum’s atrium!