This one starts with the case of Mac Phipps, jailed in a state, Louisiana, that incarcerates more of it’s citizens than any country in the world since Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
It’s a mission that Phipps, a visual artist who’s been painting since the 1980s, took up after her son, McKinley “Mac” Phipps, a former No Limit hip-hop artist, wassentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2000 nightclub shooting.
“My son was wrongfully convicted in 2001 and is now serving time for a crime he didn’t commit,” Sheila Phipps said.
The visual artist said that in the beginning she could barely face the pain of her son spending such a large portion of his life behind bars. To cope, she went to her art room, took a brush in hand, and in a series of meticulous strokes captured the element missing from her life — her son — on canvas.
“I was frustrated, and it helped me deal with the stress of everything,” Phipps told The Huffington Post.
When Phipps finished the painting of her son, she initially viewed it as a personal accomplishment. After all, it was intended to be therapeutic — a brief escape from the harsh reality of the situation. However, an emptiness remained. It prompted her to capture not only her son’s story but also those of other inmates in Louisiana who are in similar situations.
“I knew my son was not the only one who was a victim of the criminal justice system,” she said. “So I started to research other cases where individuals were convicted with questionable evidence or received excessive sentences.”
Phipps said her son ultimately became the inspiration behind her series of portraits of incarcerated men. Although she never intended her personal expression for public view, she gradually began showing her paintings as they emerged, gathering them in a series titled “Injustice Xhibition.”