Patrick Kelly’s “Mississippi Lisa”

Subverting Racial Kitsch with a T-Shirt

  • Sequoia Barnes


This article looks closely at one of Patrick Kelly’s T-shirt designs from his spring/summer 1989 ready-to-wear collection inspired by the Mona Lisa. Kelly’s “Mississippi Lisa” T-shirt design combines many of his inspirations and narrative experiences that inform his design process. The article explores how Kelly attempted to reclaim the trope of the mammy to redefine her meanings through an overtly camp yet kitsch aesthetic and interrogates what might be at stake in doing so.