I grew up in a nice neighborhood playing with Cowboys & Indians figures in my bedroom. In grade school we’d read stories about how Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and how the Pilgrims and “Indians” worked together to grow corn. I’d also try my best to draw train engines. I didn’t think about it much then, but five or six years later I started paying more attention to the messages on the trains and trying to draw the letters I’d see in magazines. “I think I want to be a graffiti writer?” It would be packed western style adventures. Much like the themes I created years earlier, when we moved from California to Louisiana. Depending on who you ask, sometimes the cowboys weren’t the good guys. Vandalism is sometimes expression, and Westward Expansion wasn’t about spreading democracy peacefully.
“Manifest Graffiti” is a series inspired by themes from my youth; the concept of Westward Expansion (Manifest Destiny) and New York subway train graffiti movement of the 70s/80, based off my experiences in the rural southern train yards I grew up painting in. Taking a crude approach toward western themed paintings, folk art, and graffiti, I create embellished narratives that draw a parallel between contemporary American and counter cultural concepts. Mundane shapes and figures became metaphors infused in a seemingly naïve presentation about Western History, Social/Race relations, and the constant concern of resources.
Pat Phillips is a graffiti writer /painter currently working in Central Louisiana. He began writing graffiti in 1999, and began exhibiting his paintings in 2009, with his series titled, “The Dirty Southern Train Yard Experience”, inspired by his early years growing up painting trains in the woods. His work touches on historical and social themes, while creating crude correlations between ideas. Some of his exhibits include, “Memphis Retrospective (2010) “Uncle Tom’s Watermelon Rebellion of 89 (2013)” and “ROOTS”, which he also spoke about at Xavier University in 2014. His work has been featured in publications such as Transition Magazine (Hutchins Center at Harvard publication), as well as the graffiti magazine, Day in the Lyfe. In 2015, he was awarded a fellowship at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. While Phillips has remained adamant about graffiti, he has used his studio presence to work with and challenge public perceptions on many topics.