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|The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center heightened our awareness of many important things but it was the first responders’ selfless commitment to saving the lives of others, at risk to their own that stood apart. Their actions drove home to the country at large that first responders live and work in every community with the same, but often unrecognized, commitment.
William S. Phillips is intimately familiar with this level of dedication; he was a firefighter before he became an artist. The events on 9/11 shook him to his core. “You become a firefighter because you are driven by a sense of community and purpose,” Phillips relates.
“Firefighters always have, and always will be, walking into that burning building looking to save lives.”
Bill’s approach to A Prayer for My Brother was that of a fellow firefighter from Oregon paying homage not only to those that died in service in New York City, but to firefighters throughout this country. He wanted this work to commemorate and support firefighters nationwide.
Since its initial release as a Fine Art Edition, William S. Phillips' A Prayer for My Brother has provided funds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.firehero.org) in fulfillment of that goal. The organization’s mission is to honor and remember America's fallen fire heroes and to provide resources to assist their survivors in rebuilding their lives. “The self sacrifice continues in every corner of this country and beyond,” says Phillips. ”Some of those men and women rushing into buildings today may have been only a child when 9/11 occurred. Still, it is the same spirit of community and purpose that drives these firefighters today as it did that fateful day in New York City.”
When we first released A Prayer for My Brother, we really weren’t certain what the reaction to the image would be. We wanted to honor the sacrifice and loss in the way we knew best, through art. Perhaps we could raise some funds for The National Fallen Firefighters as well. We found Phillips’ art was not only embraced by the firefighting community, but by the communities in which those firefighters lived. Galleries and individual citizens purchased and donated the image to local firehouses. Some organized fund-raisers, auctioning off the privilege of donating the image to the local firehouse to raise funds for that town’s first response needs.
We encourage you to take the opportunity to let your local firefighters know you are a community that recognizes their commitment to the well being and safety of others by presenting them with a print or canvas of William S. Phillips’ A Prayer for My Brother.
|About William S. Phillips
“Aviation was my first artistic love,” says William S. Phillips, “but my true, enduring love remains my Christian faith, home and family. So it is my pleasure to combine all of it in my work. The historical aviation subjects, I research; the contemporary and nostalgic subjects, I live.” Phillips grew up loving art but never thought he could make it his livelihood. At college he majored in criminology and was a smoke jumper during the summer. He had been accepted into law school when four of his paintings were sold at an airport restaurant. That was all the incentive he needed to begin his work as a fine art painter. With law school no longer an option, firefighting supported Phillips during the early stages of his artistic career.
Bill Phillips is now the aviation artist of choice for many American heroes and the nostalgic landscape artist of choice for many collectors. Bill’s strengths as a landscape painter are what gave him an edge in the aviation field: respect and reverence for a time and place. When one sees his aviation pieces, thoughts are about the courageous individuals who risked their lives for our freedom. In Bill’s nostalgic works, the viewer understands fully what that freedom is . . . the precious values that make life worth living. After one of his paintings was presented to King Hussein of Jordan, Phillips was commissioned by the Royal Jordanian Air Force. He developed sixteen major paintings, many of which now hang in the Royal Jordanian Air Force Museum in Amman. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum presented a one-man show of Phillips’ work in 1986; he is one of only a few artists to have been so honored. In 1988, Phillips was chosen to be a U.S. Navy combat artist. For his outstanding work, the artist was awarded the Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Award and the Air Force Sergeants Association’s Americanism Medal. In 1991, three of Phillips’ works were chosen as part of the top 100 in “Art for the Parks,” the prestigious annual fund-raiser for the National Park Service, and one painting received the “Art History Award” from the National Park Foundation.