Elizabeth Johnson Phillips, known to friends and family simply as EJ, grew up in Greensboro, NC. From a young age, she dreamed of being either a writer or an artist. Her childhood was full of short stories, collages, dancing and redecorating her room. Her first published poem was in the first grade: it was an ode to her teddy bear. She is fairly certain that it was the greatest piece of poetry ever written, if only she could find her school literary magazine from 1983.
She graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 2000 with a BA in Communications, specific to Screenwriting. She also minored in Creative Writing. She took every writing course UNC offered at the time. While there, she studied under Ruth Moose, Marianne Gingher, Bland Simpson and the late Doris Betts. Most days she remembers to thank God for Betts's voice in her head reminding her to show it, not tell it. As she has matured, she is also grateful for the beautiful life lessons she learned from Betts--that there is no division between the sacred and the ordinary and that adulthood means learning to carry your own pain and helping others carry theirs.
After graduating from Carolina, in the spirit of Manifest Desitiny, she set off to Denver, Colorado to "find herself." There may or may not have been a boy involved. Briefly. While in Denver, she took art and design classes at The Art Institute of Colorado. Eventually, she she longed for the East Coast and moved to Richmond, VA to be close to her older sister's family.
Wanting another degree that made just as much sense as a degree in screenwriting, she went to seminary at Union Theological Seminary. She graduated in 2005 with her master's in Christian education, concentrating in children's, youth and recreational ministries. In each of her seminary classes, she sought to bring art and creativity into the life of faith. She once turned in a painting in lieu of a paper on the book of Revelation. (She totally got an A.) Creativity continues to deepen her life of faith. Painting for her is like prayer: an invitation to listen, be present, and reflect God's goodness.
Her first commission was a series of 50 painted aprons for Home Depot and Romanoff Renovations. She has been mentored, inspired and cheered on by the various artists in her life: Lynn Matthews Noeker, Kim Burroughs, Sue Seagraves, Carolyn Schallmo, Pam Conelly, Courtney Bassett, Ali Shenk, Mollie Burpo, Margaret Harkness, Donna Campbell Allen, Andre Lucero and Amie Oliver. She is grateful for Donna Campbell Allen's advice to "do it how she wants" and to continue to be a storyteller through her art. She is very grateful for the art community she has found in Richmond.
Her work has been included in Juried All Media shows at Crossroads Art Center, Richmond, VA, Art Works Gallery, Richmond, VA and BUYRVAart.com. Her painting "boxcaRVA" placed 2nd in BUYRVAart's "Spring in RVA" show. Her painting "Not the Last Casualty: #BLM" placed 1st in Art Works Gallery's September 2017 Juried All Media Show. Her #RVA series was a solo show in The Skylight Gallery at Art Works in Richmond, VA in March of 2018. In April of 2018, two paintings from her Storyteller Series were featured in the “Faces Beyond Portraits” Exhibit at Uptown Gallery in Richmond, VA which was juried by Christopher Oliver, Asst. Curator of American Art at VMFA. In 2019, a collection of her abstract work titled “Anew” was featured in a solo show at the gallery of Stony Point Presbyterian Church, in Bon Air, VA and was curated by Brandon Additionally, her work hangs in private collections in California, Washington, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, New York, Missouri and Florida. She is a member of both Crossroads Art Center and Art Works Gallery. She is a resident artist at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, VA.
Her greatest works of art are her four children: Henry, Grace, Charlie and Mollie. She and her children live, laugh and make messes in Midlothian, VA.