Redfearn chases his dream with ‘Think’

Cheraw native’s artwork on display at international competition

By Kevin Spradlin

* Donate: Help Joshua get to Michigan

Just call Joshua Redfearn the people’s artist.

While some creative types make their audiences work to understand the message, the 31-year-old Cheraw native has set his sights on being able to be understand by, well, just about everybody that can see his artwork. His latest piece, “Think,” can be seen by a lot of people. That’s due to its location — at ArtPrize, an international art competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. — as well as its size. The piece stands 9.5 feet tall and weighs an estimated 500 pounds.

Submitted photo Joshua Redfearn stands by this "Think."

Submitted photo
Joshua Redfearn stands by this “Think.”

“I try not to be too deep,” Redfearn said of his piece, which is being voted upon by those who visit downtown Grand Rapids. The competition began Wednesday. “I feel like everybody from (gage) 8 (on up)” should be able to understand it.

With “Think,” the concept is rather simple. The idea is to evoke thought and discussion. It’s also a call to action. Think, Redfearn said, before acting. Before speaking.

“If we actually thought before we made important decisions in life, what misery would we avoid? What joy would we create by choosing to make the wisest decision at that time?”

Judges at ArtFields in a Lake City, S.C., art contest in April thought well enough of “Think” to award the piece with the People’s Choice award. The prize came with $12,500 cash and no small amount of recognition. It also instilled in Redfearn the idea that competitions breeds the best out of him.

Because he’s not in it for the art. He’s in it for the money to pursue his one true passion. First prize, announced on Oct. 12, in the Michigan competition is $200,000. Finalists, named Oct. 5, will walk away with at least $20,000 apiece.

“My true passion is … to become a professional inventor,” said Redfearn, who works as an assistant administrator at Word of Life Fellowship Church on Tec Road in Cheraw. “I have a lot of ideas and things that I want to get out there to the world. I have notebooks full of products and designs. It take smoney to get things out there. If I was to win that top prize, my first thing would be to begin the design process, and the patent, of my first product.”

“Think” took Redfearn, a 2001 graduate of Cheraw High School, nearly five months to complete. He finished it on the day the Lake City competition began. He and a friend hauled the 3-D work — actually three separate pieces — the day the competition began.

Last week, Redfearn and his brother, Charles, drove a Penske moving truck 817 miles — nearly 12 hours each way — to deliver the piece to the Grand Rapids event, which encompasses three square miles of downtown space.

“Think,” Redfearn said, “was a dangerous decision.”Think1

That’s because the easy, time-saving solution would have been to paint much of the project. Instead, there isn’t a drop of paint on it even though it appears just the opposite.

“I did that on purpose,” Redfearn said. “Once I got started on it … I said I’m gonna take this challenge and not use paint at all.”

Voting must be done in person in Michigan. Redfearn said it was the same way in Lake City but there he had essentially home court advantage. Family, friends and fellow church members traveled the distance and cast their ballots in Redfearn’s favor. He’s not worried about being so far away from home this time, however. The overall winner of the Lake City contest was from Arkansas.


Think was created using fabric, paper, and numerous objects. Each piece was hand cut and placed to make a unique image. I decided to use different fabrics to create the colors throughout the piece as well as objects and paper instead of paint. It is the largest piece I have made to date standing 9.5 feet and was created over the span of 5 months. Originally, I planned to include paint, but once started I decided to accept the challenge of coloring without it. There is no paint used in this piece at all which I feel makes it more extravagant. All pieces down to the gleam inside the pink of the eye are hand cut and placed.

Various art techniques were also included in the piece such as: hardened fabric, layered paper, resining, button, and toothpick art. Viewing the piece from the front gives the illusion it is all one piece, but actually the hand is a separate piece from the face. When viewed from another angle, it gives a three dimensional effect. Resin was used to coat and protect the piece. It also makes it more approachable.

As artists are prone to do, Redfearn added a personal touch to the piece. While a silhouette of the family sitting down, perhaps on a picnic, is in yellow on the thinking man’s forehead, there is a separate silhouette of another infant with the initials JGR. Redfearn said those letters sand for Justyce Gabriel Redfearn, who would have been 1 but was a lost twin when complications arose during his wife’s pregnancy.

The loss, Redfearn said, “kind of changed my perspective on life a lot. You never think stuff’s gonna happen, and it happens.”

“Think” is now available for sale. Redfearn said he has an idea for a price but isn’t sure how others will value the artwork. If the work is not sold while in Michigan, he’ll have to travel and rent another moving truck to bring it home. That takes money, and Redfearn — the pro typical struggling artist — could use assistance covering some of the basic costs. He has established an online campaign where those who are inclined to donate may do so.

* * * 

Redfearn is married to Shakeeka. They live in Cheraw with their two sons, ages 11 and 1. Shakeeka, from Pageland, is a teacher at Cheraw Intermediate School.


Filed in: Latest Headlines

You might like:

M. Bishop sinks putt for Mixed Division playoff win M. Bishop sinks putt for Mixed Division playoff win
Von Hagel wins drawing for Pixel Von Hagel wins drawing for Pixel
Application period open for club sponsorship Application period open for club sponsorship
S. Farris wins Player of the Year S. Farris wins Player of the Year
© 2024 All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.