Richard Phillips said he didn’t mope much during the 45 years he wrongfully spent in prison. He painted watercolors in his cell: warm landscapes, portraits of famous people like Mother Teresa, vases of flowers, a bassist playing jazz.

“I didn’t actually think I’d ever be free again. This art is what I did to stay sane,” the 73-year-old said.

Phillips could be eligible for more than $2 million under a Michigan law that compensates the wrongly convicted, but the state so far is resisting and the matter is unsettled. So he’s displaying roughly 50 of his more than 400 watercolors at a Detroit-area gallery and is willing to sell them.

His paintings are precious to him, but he said he has no choice: He needs money.


Posted by:Kolumn Magazine

KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.