Heather Raquel Phillips is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, text, and photography. A native of Philadelphia, Heather Raquel received her BFA from Tyler School of Art (2008) and her MFA from University of Pennsylvania (2016) where she was the recipient of the prestigious Toby Devon Lewis Fellowship & the Stuart Egnal Scholarship Award. She has recently shown work at Mama Gallery, LA, Grizzly Grizzly in Philadelphia, BLAM Gallery In Brooklyn, NY & Hyphen Gallery in DC. She is a currently a lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania, a 2017 recipient of The Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant and the reigning Ms. Philadelphia Leather.
I work with queer subjects to represent and produce autonomy for negated identities. I am not looking to gain acceptance, instead, I strive for the liberation from normative compartmentalization. I use myself and my friends as models. By either choice or nature, we carry bodies that fall outside typical societal ideals. With using the people with whom I have personal relationships, I am able to capture an intimacy that I cannot achieve with hired models or actors. I provide the stage for the performance. Each model is given a loose set of directions and then encouraged to bring their own ideas and personalities to the piece. This improvisation creates a collaboration far greater than I could script.
I use euphemism, double-entendre and innuendo as a tool to welcome the viewer into a conversation aiming to destabilize stigmas surrounding sexuality, perversion and fetish. My goal is to simultaneously disrupt notions of normalcy and debunk a patriarchal & heteronormative power structure. I continually interrogate race, gender & sexuality as unstable social constructs