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My ICU art exhibition is meant for the diaspora, and community activism - Artist, Bonnie Phillips


My ICU art exhibition is meant for the diaspora, and community activism - Artist, Bonnie Phillips

Bonnie Phillips, a talented artist known for her vibrant and expressive oil paintings, is set to unveil her solo exhibit titled "I C U" at Kente Royal on June 9, 2023. This captivating collection revolves around the idea of capturing people from the diaspora and is divided into two series: "The Sherbet Warriors" and "The Harlem Gems." Through her artwork, Bonnie aims to celebrate the resilience and contributions of community activists and the distinctiveness of Harlem's inhabitants.

"The Sherbet Warriors" series was inspired by Bonnie's encounter with a powerful image during the George Floyd protests. The sight of a community activist, donning a bright orange hoodie and sporting a profusion of gray hair, left a lasting impression on Bonnie. Intrigued by the unnamed and unseen women who tirelessly work towards making a change in their community, Bonnie decided to portray their energy on canvas. It was later revealed that the image that sparked this series was that of Erica Ford, a renowned community activist who recently retired after 30 years of dedicated service. Symbols such as gray hair, representing wisdom and time, hoodies, signifying protection and sometimes threat, and Black Lives Matter symbols, epitomizing the heart of activism, appear throughout this series. The inclusion of past and present warriors as cameos further emphasizes the importance of their achievements and ongoing work.

In the "Harlem Gems" series, Bonnie draws inspiration from her deep connection to the Harlem community. Having spent many years living, working, and volunteering in Harlem, Bonnie was captivated by the unique style of expression exhibited by its inhabitants.

One of her earliest encounters was with an older man dressed in a head-to-toe gold lame pinstripe suit, which sparked her desire to document such remarkable individuals. Bonnie's interactions with these individuals, who exude flair and flavor distinctively Harlem, became the foundation for this series. From couples making a difference in the art community to everyday people going about their lives with a touch of Harlem's spirit, Bonnie captures their essence through her vibrant artwork.

"My artistic journey began when i attented Slade Art School in London", Bonnie recalled during a recent interview with Vanguard.

"After moving to the United States, I pursued art classes at the Art Students League and Bronx River Art Center, but it wasn't until my involvement in coordinating an art show in Harlem and Soho as a fundraiser that my passion for creating art was reignited".

On her upcoming art exbition, she said: "I C U is a Solo Exhibit packaged to celebrate Diaspora, Community Activism in Colorful Oil Paintings. It will open to the public on June 9, 2023, at Kente Royal, located at 2373 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030. The exhibition will feature an artist talk on June 15, providing attendees with the opportunity to gain insights into my creative process and the stories behind most of my powerful captivating paintings".

Bonnie's triptych "Young Black Love," completed over the course of several years, marked a significant milestone in her artistic career. Through her participation in a group of talented women writers and artists, she has successfully embraced her mission as an artist: to paint the beauty and challenges of black and brown people in her community.

Akeju Abass, a media director at Prime Music Partners lauds Bonnie's drive to champion and expand Black initiatives. "ICU is an Afro-focused initiative and will serve as platform to display and mark black's immerse contributions through art and diverse creativity", he said.

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