August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape: The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the life and works of August Wilson is now open! Learn More

Collections in Black: A Celebration of Black Comic Book Culture

The Victoria Gallery and Benedum Gallery

“Collections in Black” delves into the African American experience within comic book culture and sheds light on our often overlooked history within the culture in a truly unique way. For far too long, the rich history and significant impact of African Americans in shaping the comic book industry have been overshadowed.

“My film and exhibition are here to change that narrative and ensure that these incredible contributions are not only recognized but celebrated.” – Phillip Thompson

Phillip Thompson aka Big Phill is a 2024 B.U.I.L.D. Artist-in-Residence. His residency is made possible by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Opening Reception, Friday, July 26

“Collections in Black” documentary film premiere will take place in the theatre. There will be an audience talkback with the filmmaker following the premiere.

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Big PhilPhillip Thompson, professionally known as Big Phill, discovered his passion for DJing, music production, and filmmaking during his formative years, embarking on his journey at the age of 15. His early immersion in these creative pursuits enabled him to hone his craft and develop a distinctive style that has captivated audiences throughout his career.

After graduating from Penn Hills High School, Phillip pursued higher education at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he further cultivated his talents and expanded his artistic horizons. Upon completing his studies, Phillip returned to Pittsburgh, driven by a fervent desire to share his artistic vision and expertise with his roots. He began curating and DJing events across the city, showcasing his talents and contributing to the cultural vibrancy of Pittsburgh’s music scene.

In the summer of 2000, Phillip achieved a significant milestone with the premiere of his inaugural film, “The Archives,” at the esteemed Andy Warhol Museum. This documentary offered a glimpse into Pittsburgh’s dynamic hip-hop landscape, featuring footage from Phillip’s own endeavors and serving as a testament to his creative vision and storytelling prowess.

In a strategic move to consolidate his passions for film, music, and community engagement, Phillip founded “33 and a Third Media.” Under this innovative platform, he seamlessly integrated visual and auditory elements to connect with diverse communities and foster meaningful dialogue. His dedication to collecting and sharing cultural treasures has inspired his latest project, “Collections in Black,” a documentary film where he embarks on a journey across the country to interview and document some of the rarest and highly culturally curated comic and art collections. Through meticulous storytelling and creative execution, Phillip produces compelling content that resonates with audiences on both an emotional and intellectual level, driving conversations and inspiring action. This commitment to artistic expression and community empowerment serves as the cornerstone of his work, empowering individuals and fostering unity through the transformative power of art and narration.

Community outreach lies at the heart of 33 and a Third Media’s mission, as Phillip collaborates with nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and grassroots initiatives to effect positive change through his art. By leveraging his platform and influence, he strives to inspire and uplift individuals while promoting social cohesion and unity.

Phillip’s commitment to artistic excellence and community enrichment led to his instrumental role in establishing Union DJs, a collective comprising Pittsburgh’s finest DJs. Through Union events, Phillip fosters a welcoming environment that transcends boundaries and unites individuals from all walks of life.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape and his steadfast commitment to promoting unity through music, Phillip Thompson and the Union DJ crew were honored with a proclamation by the Mayor’s Office in 2022. This accolade underscored their significant impact and enduring legacy within the community.

Phillip has always dedicated himself to serving the community by educating youth in the fields of film, photography, and music production through teaching media courses in these areas. Additionally, he served as a coordinator for Westinghouse High School’s ‘Lighthouse Program’, enriching the educational experience for students. Phillip expanded his community outreach initiatives internationally by taking students to Prague, where his students performed songs that they created as part of the Lighthouse Program. He also created a documentary entitled “Pittsburgh to Prague” which he completely shot, directed and edited by himself.

Throughout his career, Phillip has remained dedicated to mentorship, recognizing its transformative potential in nurturing the next generation of artists, leaders, and innovators. He actively participates in mentoring programs, sharing his knowledge and experiences to inspire and guide young individuals on their own creative journeys.

Through his multifaceted endeavors, Phillip Thompson harnesses the power of art to effect positive change, fostering unity, inspiration, and social transformation. His unwavering dedication continues to leave an indelible mark on the lives of individuals and the broader community alike.