Gina Phillips
Fort Dirt HoleLife LasagnaHeroes and VillainsThe Call of the Alluvial EmpireFriends and NeighborsFats Domino SeriesMulched Thread PaintingsOther WorkEarly Work
I'm a mixed-media, narrative artist who grew up in Kentucky and have lived in New Orleans since 1995. My work is influenced by the imagery, stories and characters of both regions. My working methods and materials are directly influenced by my upbringing in rural Kentucky. Although my childhood was marked by an absence of conventional modern conveniences, I was fortunate to be surrounded by a family characterized by a propensity for mechanical, artistic and musical abilities. I had at my disposal a whole acre of family-owned junkyard. I learned that no object or material should be thrown away since it could be reused or turned into something else...something functional or something artistic. This environment was perfect training for becoming an artist.

I began as a painter, but over the years, I have increasingly incorporated fabric and thread into my work. In my mixed-media work, I usually begin with a simple underpainting in acrylic paint on canvas or muslin. Then I finish the piece by appliquéing fabric and thread on top. Since 2006, I’ve been using a longarm quilting machine for appliqué work. This machine fits onto a ten foot quilting frame that allows me to more easily work on large wall-hangings. My work often treads a fine line between 2-D and 3-D. Sometimes the narrative is conveyed within the construct of a picture plane and other times the forms are cut out; the meaning comes to light via the juxtaposition of cut-out forms. I often use common dressmaker’s pins in these whole-wall installations of cut-outs. It’s important to me that these pieces maintain their “objecthood” and I feel that pinning the work to the wall reinforces their 3-D status.

Throughout my career, I believe the most common narrative characteristic that runs through my work is tragicomedy. The people, animals and landscapes that tell the story often embody an air of ill-fated absurdity that the viewer can't help finding funny. Any comic elements are intended to be sympathetic rather than cynical. I believe this tragicomic sensibility was fostered by the impoverished, rural situation in which I grew up. We made a habit of facing adversity with a sense of humor.