Visual artist, activist, and native New Orleanian, Sheila Worthy Phipps became interested in drawing and painting in grade school at a very early age. Shortly after graduating high school, Sheila got married and started a family. To supplement the family’s income, Phipps began drawing and painting portraits. It did not take long for her talent to quickly evolve into a full on professional career with a span of over thirty years. Today, Phipps’ work includes portraits, abstract art, and still life. She also utilizes an array of mediums including oils, acrylics, charcoal, and pastels. Her work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions throughout the U.S. Additionally, Sheila has participated in hundreds of art festivals and jury shows and has won many awards for her artwork. Sheila also served as the Vice President of the New Orleans Chapter of the National Conference of Artists organization in 2008 for five years.
Apart from her professional work as an artist, Phipps also uses her passion as a method of activism. She currently has an ongoing exhibit entitled Painted Justice, a series of portraits which profiles the stories of wrongfully and/or harshly accused prisoners. Phipps was inspired by her own personal experience with her son, former No Limit Records recording artist McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr., who served twenty one years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The series was created to raise awareness to the level of injustice occurring throughout the judicial system. The exhibit is ongoing and is currently part of a traveling exhibition entitled the States of Incarceration which launched in New York City in 2016 at The New School. It will be traveling to 17 cities around the U.S. and to Paris, France for a total of five years.
Sheila has been awarded the first Artist-In-Residency for the Bar-None Organization, a New Orleans based organization who aims to transcend incarceration through the arts by offering formerly incarcerated people opportunities for healing through the arts. While in residency, Phipps created a program entitled “Steps to Freedom”. As part of the program, Sheila held a series of workshops at various youth facilities where the participants painted shoes to symbolize steps to freedom. For more information regarding Bar-None and the “Steps to Freedom” program please visit www.bar-none.net.