From a young age, Thompson has felt a deep connection to the earth and describes a special relationship with Aves in both a tangible and spiritual way. He credits both his Native American heritage and his mom’s experience of working with animals for his affinity for birds and what they represent. Particularly when he was young, he recounts how his single mom, already stretched thin, would rescue birds and animals in need and take them into their home, providing shelter and care. In discussing his participation in Native American sweat ceremonies (which are performed for spiritual and physical purification), he describes the presence and significance of birds, especially the hummingbird, as a symbol of ancestral wisdom. To Thompson personally, the hummingbird appears in times of tragedy and death as a source of comfort and healing.
Artist Phillip Simpson is living proof that one person truly can manifest infinite ripples of positivity and optimism into the universe. His mission is simple. He says, “My whole purpose with my artwork is to spread some sort of joy, where the viewer, whether child or adult, will see my work and get inspired to do good and be kind.” Most importantly, he wants people to remember, it’s okay to smile! Simpson says smiling is the language of happiness, which is exactly what he wants his art to covey. If you’ve recently paid a visit to Detroit, or you’re a fan of the Detroit art renaissance, you have most likely noticed Simpson’s “Detroit is Home” mural installation on Broderick Tower. At more than twelve stories tall, the mural is a compilation of ten different smile faces (a Simpson hallmark) meant to abstractly represent all the different faces and colors of the people that call Detroit their city. You may have also noticed five full-length basketball courts splashed in his signature smiles and hearts, his numerous community murals, or you may have even been lucky enough to be invited to his studio. In any case, it’s hard to avoid the Phillip Simpson feel-good affect emanating from the Motor City.