Prompt: Considering the community structure and interconnectivity of working out of Redux, as well as the dynamic nature of being a part of the greater creative community in Charleston, how is your work influenced by these immediate surroundings? How are elements of community, Charleston, and Redux portrayed in your work?
I’ve really never felt a tangible sense of community around me before I moved to Charleston in 2014. Not living in CT, and not in NYC. It’s safe to say that this could have been an issue regarding my own underdevelopment and insensitivity, but stepping into a community of people who see and embrace the potential in others, this felt relatively new to me. Redux, and the network I’ve developed within this creative community has provided me the foundation and confidence to take risks in my work. I’ve come to establish a certain style of painting as a result, and I’ve chosen to portray three people who have come into my life here in Charleston, who all have some very profound characteristics in common, a basic one being that they’re all heavily involved in the Warrior Surf Foundation, a tribe I now consider family.
“Jesse” 18x24” acrylics on wood Jesse Miller, 34 years old Brother to two, son, friend, ultra-runner, surfer, saver of lives, Navy Corpsman in the Marine Corps Infantry ’10-17, loyal, consistent, steadfast, creative, capable, durable, resilient. I painted from a photo I took of Jesse in March 2019 while hiking in Zion, two days before our first Ultramarathon in AZ. He has willingly gone into the “pain cave” with me multiple times, a place we go to find better versions of ourselves. He is also one of the crucial components that make Warrior Surf stand apart as an incredibly effective non-profit for Veterans, by Veterans.
“Isabell” 18x24” acrylics on wood Isabell Dasher, 10 years old Oldest sister to three, friend, dancer, fashionista, musician, surfer, fighter, cancer survivor, warrior, daughter to a 2nd Class Petty Officer & a Specialist in the Army, capable, durable, resilient. I painted from a photo I took of Isabell at Folly Gras 2018, she was dancing and singing all by herself to music no one else could hear, under the Warrior Surf tent, and reminded me of what I strive to be: fearless.
“Andy” 18x24” acrylics on wood Andy Manzi, 34 years old Fiancee, brother to two, son, avid surfer, co-founder of the Warrior Surf Foundation, excellent cook, Sergeant in the Marine Corps Infantry ’03-07, leader, risk-taker, unwavering, determined, capable, durable, resilient. I painted from a photo I took of Andy in January 2019, exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala. He is my partner, and daily reminder to never stop fighting for what you want, what you believe to be right, and to stand tall for those who need somewhere to lean sometimes.
Warrior Surf sets itself far apart from other Veteran non-profits, and it’s so effective because it focuses on the future: where you want to go. Not dwelling on the past, systematically rehashing deep painful memories via traditional therapies, etc. Sure, you’ll find yourself hearing the war stories, and sharing your own, maybe over a rather primitive but elaborate pig roast with locals and friends on the rugged Guatemalan Pacific coast in celebration of the birthday of one of our own, during the annual surf retreat. (Yes, this happened.)
But there is a precise focus on the strengths of the people that come through the program, because that’s the reason they’re still here: their capabilities, durablity, and resiliency.
These pieces are currently showing at
The Annual Artist Exhibition at Redux Contemporary Art Center
on view June 1 - July 13, 2019
1056 King St, Charleston