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Artist Talk: Heather Raquel Phillips - (S)Extra: Bait & Switches

  • James Oliver Gallery 723 Chestnut Street / Floor 4 Philadelphia, PA, 19106 United States (map)

James Oliver Gallery presents: 
(S)Extra: Bait & Switches // Artist talk by Heather Raquel Phillips
Thursday May 31st // 6-8PM

Thank you to everyone who joined us for (S)Extra: Bait & Switches, multi media works by Heather Raquel Phillips. Her intimate vignettes showcase queer identities using humor and innuendo, seeking to break the viewer from normative compartmentalization, exploring sexual power and preference. Phillips' open yet euphemistic approach challenges cultural ideas around sexuality, race, gender, power, and shame, zeroing in on complex dualities and inviting us into a world where the power play has shifted. We are now excited to host Heather’s artist talk next Thursday night! Join us to get an up-close talk with the artist herself. Be sure to also buy a (S)Extra book when you come by before they sell out!

About Heather Raquel Phillips:
Heather Raquel Phillips is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, video, text and photography. A native of Philadelphia, Heather Raquel received her BFA from Tyler School of Art (2008) and her MFA from University of Pennsylvania (2016) where she was the recipient of the prestigious Toby Devon Lewis Fellowship & the Stuart Egnal Scholarship Award.

She has recently exhibited at Mama Gallery, Los Angeles, the Ice Box Project Space and Grizzly Grizzly in Philadelphia, BLAM Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, The Leather Archives & Museum, Chicago and Hyphen Gallery In D.C. Her current body of work, (S)Extra is now on display at James Oliver Gallery in a solo exhibition.

Phillips is a lecturer of fine arts at The University of Pennsylvania, A member of the artist gallery collective, Napoleon, Ms. Philadelphia Leather 2017 and a 2017 recipient of The Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant.

Heather Raquel Phillips Artist Statement:
I work with queer subjects to represent and produce autonomy for negated identities. I am not looking to gain acceptance, but rather I am striving for the liberation from normative compartmentalization.

I use myself and my friends as models. We carry bodies that fall outside typical societal ideals by either choice or nature. By using the people with whom I have personal relationships, I am able to capture an intimacy that I cannot achieve with hired models or actors. I provide the stage for the performance. Each actor is given a loose set of directions and then invited to bring their own ideas and personalities to the piece. This improvisation creates a collaboration that is far greater than I could ever script.

I use euphemism, double-entendre and innuendo as a springboard to create works in video, objects, text and photographs. The videos and objects use humor as a tool to welcome the viewer into a conversation aiming to destabilize stigmas surrounding sexuality, perversions and fetish. The characters assume roles that are sovereign and potent. They walk directly through stereotypes. My goal is to simultaneously disrupt notions of normalcy and debunk a patriarchal & heteronormative power structure. I aim to expose race, gender & sexual classifications as an unstable social construct.

This show is dedicated to black and brown folx, everyone who is living their truth unapologetically & the leather community.