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ARTISTS ON THE CUTTING EDGE:  How did you get into the arts?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: It depends on what is meant by the arts. As an art lover, I got into visual art at an early age with school projects such as creating a barn-scene collage, where I used twigs, construction paper and sand. In the 50s and 60s, art classes were mandatory, where I went to school.  My mother taught the girls in the family how to crochet, knit, embroider and sew, and I hand stitched a terrycloth rabbit stuffed with cotton. 

As for fine arts, my husband and I were/are modest collectors, but we have collected more art created by local artists who are affiliated with the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club (DFABC) and the National Conference of Artists (NCA) Michigan. 

From decoupage to painting on canvas.  It started as a challenge to me by family to see if these skills were transferable to fine art painting.  After several classes at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (BBAC) and The Community House (TCH), I became a professional visual artist in 2015, following my first solo show, which was an unexpected virtual sellout.

As a leather and lugagge retailer in the mid to late eighties, another tenant in the professional office bulding and I supported NCA artists, offering them free booths, with no commission to us, during Black History Month. They were excited and pleased with the two-day, pop-up exhibits and I also sold Pyramid Gallery-providing fine art right off the wall at my business. 


AOTCE: What type of art do you do? Representation, abstract, etc?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: I do abstract, intuitive, experimental expressionist art.


AOTCE: What is your subject matter? 


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER:  Because my paintings are intuitive, I usually don't have a theme until the art is finished then titled. Some exceptions are my "If Women Ruled" and "Black Lines Matter" series, addressing what the world or country might be like if there were equal opportunity for women and peace and justice for all people of color, especially black men, whose lives are shortened by extreme use of physical force and guns. 


AOTCE:  What is your medium of choice, and do you use more than one?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: My medium of choice is acrylic on canvas.  Occasionally, I will incorporate fabric from remnants I collect or use paper and burlap.


AOTCE: Do you regularly create if so how often?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: I create most every day sometimes 12 hours at a stretch.
























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 "Syncopated #31," original 16 x 40 SOLD


"Aerial View," 36 x 36 - SOLD


"Eminence," 36 x 48 available at Umoja 


"You Are Here," 24 x 36 - SOLD 


"For Gilda...Block by Block," 30 X 40,



WhiteWashed," 15 x 30 - SOLD


"Hue:::Intuition, 30 x 40


"If Women Ruled," 36 x 36, SOLD


"Black Lines Matter" series - 36 x 48 SOLD

AOTCE: What motivates you to create? 


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: Mostly self-motivated, I am also motivated by collector feedback, family, and by requests to donate art to 501C3 organizations such as Matrix Human Services and Charles Wright Museum's annual art auctions/fundraisers; by responding to calls for artists, such as the NCA and the Torch of Wisdom Foundation's annual auctions, and other exhibits.  Of course, the monetary rewards and recognition are the icing on the cake that help motivate me. 

AOTCE: Are you compelled to do this type of work? Is it work or expression?

PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: I am not compelled to do this kind of work, but it is necessary to have work for various submissions to artist calls or invitational opportunities.  It only feels like work when deadlines are near and I have insufficient inventory, then I am forced to play catch-up if I want to participate. 


AOTCE: What advice would you give someone who may be interested in doing the work you do?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: I would advise them if they are new to painting to take a few art classes, to join an art group consisting of collectors and artists, to listen to feedback, and to keep track when possible of each transaction on a spreadsheet. My main advice, though, is to just do it, keeping a positive attitude, no matter the obstacles.


AOTCE: Do you have a mentor or do you mentor others?


PRISCILLA A PHIFER: On the business side, George N'Namdi of the art center of the same name and highly acclaimed artist Shirley Woodson Reid, president of the NCA, immediately come to mind. On the artist side, Robbie Best and my TCH instructor, Laurie Mueller, showed me the ropes, introducing me to art organizations and opportunities that have advanced this late-in-life, accidental career. 


AOTCE: Do I mentor? I share information with some artists who may not have access to such information and opportunities that could benefit them. 


AOTCE: Do you have any art shows coming up?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER:  Glad you asked.  I am in the upcoming Detroit Artists Market exhibit curated by 2020 Kresge Fellow Anita Bates. Themed "Out in the Open," it is January 21 to February 19, and features six other artists. www.detroitartistsmarket.org 

Another one is "When There Are Nine, curated by Sharlene Welton. The exhibit will be at the Hannan Center, beginning March 22, 2022. 


AOTCE: Do you work from a studio?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: Yes. My studio is in my home.


AOTCE: Where can your art be seen? At a gallery, or online presence?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: My art can be seen on Facebook @ArtbyPriscilla and in person at my studio by appointment.


AOTCE: Are you affiliated with a gallery?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: Yes, since Oct 2020, some of my art is at Umoja Fine Arts Gallery, www.umojafinearts.com, where Ian Grant is the gallerist.  I would like to add that I published an art book, titled Hue: Intuition, in December 2020.. The 1st printing sold out immediately and the second is a virtual sellout with a few copies left at Irwin House Gallery.


AOTCE: Who are your greatest influences whether in the arts or not?


PRISCILLA A. PHIFER: Two of my influences are Sam Gilliam and Charles Burwell, living African American abstractionists in the Philadelphia/New York area. Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko are also influences. 

All rights to all images belong to the artists and cannot be used in any form without the written permission of the artists.  

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