Home » What do Homeless Artists do? (They Make a Statement)

What do Homeless Artists do? (They Make a Statement)

So we received this email yesterday:


April 15, 2009: A casualty of the 2008 economic crisis, unemployed conceptual artist Brian Rushton Phillips, has chosen to use his remaining cash to create a response to the current downturn and his own financial uncertainty.

Rushton Phillips, Financial Security (Blanket), 2009. Image:rushtonphillips.com

Admittedly, our first thought was…’Duh..”

Entitled ‘Financial Security (Blanket)’, the project incorporates 208 American dollar bills, sewn together with thread, to form a makeshift security blanket. Typically, the concept of a security blanket offers a sense of shelter and comfort when adapting to new situations, however, the fragility of the construction of Rushton Phillips’ blanket, contrasts with its assumed purpose and the stability of its title, and conjures an oxymoronic image, consistent with the current economic climate and the state of global unemployment, homelessness and financial security.

Phillips says: “The blanket is indeed constructed using every last cent of my remaining cash…at present…I am living on credit. The project is conceptual and the blanket is not being used as a means of shelter. Thankfully, I am not homeless, yet.”

Although this idea seems rather insipid by 20th century art standards – the artist isn’t really homeless, or penniless, or using the blanket for warmth or protection – there is room for this kind of visual interpretation in contemporary culture.

Rushton Phillips Collaborations, a collaboration between Sheralyn Rushton Phillips and designer Brian Rushton Phillips, defines itself as working “to interpret the social, physical and media landscape of the 21st century, and stimulate a dialogue for social change through visual art that challenges, questions and comments upon the status quo of popular culture.”

Although this type of creative endeavor has value, it’s not really capital-A ‘Art.” It is a type of interpretation that is everywhere now, operating under the guise of Art, but really, it’s more akin to a new language. Imagine if magazines featured page after page of this kind of work – using imagery, rather than words to encourage thought.

Please, let’s create a new name for this type of work. It’s not bad, but it’s different than ART.

Brian Rushton Phillips is a graphic designer, artist and photographer.

Click HERE for past projects and more information.

2 Responses to “What do Homeless Artists do? (They Make a Statement)”

  1. A.K. says:

    My guess is that he is a graphic designer, marketing himself, and looking to be hired by a hip ad agency. I am not sure how one even begins to answer the “is it art” question, in this post-Hirst, post-bubble, age of anxiety. But is sure is fun arguing about it!

  2. AC says:

    I’ll pass.

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