Black American Southerners are the genesis of African American culture.
I feel that what's missing in the depictions of Black Southerners is a deeper, more personal dive into their lives by one of their own. So many portrayals from non-Southerners are very superficial and miss important nuances and Black Southern cultural references. The result too often is either a total omission of Black Americans or the repetition of the same dysfunctional tropes about them. By embracing themes of authenticity, belonging, community, and pride, my work aims to challenge that narrative. Through a practice driven by conversation and research, I am making the viewer take a second look and explore more deeply the lives, influences, and viewpoints of my subjects. It is through continued engagement with the images that the viewer gets a fuller understanding of who the subjects actually are as people.
My work is open to adoration and commentary from all people, but I always work with the intention of a Black audience.
Currently based in Mebane, North Carolina, Phillip “King Phill” Loken was born in Texas and has lived in various cities and towns across North Carolina since the age of four. His photography is intimately tied to his lived experiences as a Black man in the American South. He wants to capture the rich history and vibrant cultural expressions that influence his subjects' lives.
Loken's work has been exhibited nationally. Most recently his work was part of the group exhibition, Black and White: 2023 at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon (2023). In 2022, Loken participated in the Give Black Raleigh Her Flowers' exhibition at Anchorlight Gallery in Raleigh, N.C. (2022). In 2021, Loken participated in the exhibition BLACK GAZE: Representation, Identity, and Expression at The Light Factory Photo Arts Center (2021).
As a professional photographer, Loken has worked with a variety of organizations and companies, including the City of Raleigh, CreativeMornings, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Special Olympics North Carolina. His photographs have also been licensed for use by the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, Verizon’s Go90 docuseries American Down Low, and Walter Magazine. Loken was featured in a documentary film, Creative NC: An Introspective Look at Creative Culture, which premiered in 2017 at the North Carolina Museum of History.