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you are safe west ashleyWest Ashley is finally getting some Piccolo props from the City of Charleston. A single, but notable Piccolo Spoleto event has been slated for Rick Rhodes Art Gallery on Belgrade Avenue (off of Wappoo Road). The show, titled You Are Safe, is a three-person exhibit on display from May 20 to June 25.

You Are Safe is a multidisciplinary exhibition focusing on the collaboration between three artists: Tina Christophillis, Justin Nathanson, and Brit Washburn. A chance meeting between Washburn and Christophillis sparked the beginning of the collaboration. Both artists were participating in a singer-songwriter event at the Charleston Pour House. Christophillis was attempting to capture the text, tone, and imagery of the musicians' lyrics and the poets' words graphically. Through this meeting a project was initiated with the impulse to explore city life, relationships, and their connection.

you are safe 2It wasn't long before filmmaker Justin Nathanson was asked to join the group and an artistic cross-pollination began. The issue of safety rose out of the artists wanting to share their visions freely and honestly. Nothing was to be judged, and everything was to be imagined. Working from this place of safety and non-judgment, the artists began working independently, inspired by their frequent interactions.

As the collaboration moved forward, Christophillis was inspired to move inward. She began to explore the figure in timeless situations, alone in a city, room, or corridor, under a tree, holding an animal, stepping out into the light. In eliminating detail in her paintings, her figures become "everyman," and emanating something we can all connect to on an intuitive level. This collaboration offered Christophillis safety to explore imagery that is evocative, suggestive, and relevant to all.

By video and audio taping every meeting, Justin Nathanson began to work directly with the collaborative dialogue. Playing further on the issue of safety, Nathanson began photographing figures in the dark, most running from or moving towards their shadows, or themselves. Nathanson will have an avant-garde video installation and several smaller audio pieces to accompany his photography.

Over the course of Brit Washburn's acquaintance with Christopholis, Nathanson, and their work, Washburn found herself preoccupied with the artists' images and questions posed in conversation with them. Her poems of the past several months investigate the concept of "safety" in various forms, delineating the experience in a lyrical narrative style reflective of the artists' influence.

You Are Safe will be on view from May 20 through June 25. The public is invited to an opening reception on May 20 from 6-10 p.m. at Rick Rhodes Studio, 1842 Belgrade Avenue. For more information, go to or call 766-7425.