Detroit artist wrongfully imprisoned for decades becomes unlikely art phenom

A falsely imprisoned artist succeeds.

After 46 years of wrongful imprisonment, the Detroit artist has achieved great success


It would be easy to mistake Detroit artist Richard Phillips as a highly trained master of his field. But the 75-year-old just had his first exhibition in 2019 and may be America’s most unexpected art phenom.

Phillips, who was Featured on CBS News in 2019In 1971, he was arrested for murder. Acquitted in 2018.But for 46 years he was wrongfully imprisoned.

He painted to overcome the passage of time and injustice.

“It was something to do, (to) occupy my mind,” Phillips said. “I can go into one of my paintings and stay there for hours and hours and hours.”

Once he was acquitted, however, he was sent on his way without a bus ticket, leaving him to wonder how he would survive.

Art by Richard Phillips.

Steve Hartman / On the Road

“I thought maybe I’d have to stand outside somewhere with the cup and beg for nickels and dimes,” Phillips said.

Once again, though, Finn saves him. He realized he could take his artwork – hundreds and hundreds Water color paintings – and use it to earn a living.

Four years later, Phillips Used to sell your art. To buy a new house, a car and even a dog.

Now, he is enjoying what he was denied for nearly half a century.

“It’s not done yet. I’m still involved in social reform. I’m still involved in criminal justice. I’m still involved with the Innocence Network,” Phillips said. “I’m just trying to stay active.”

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