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Creating__#Rochester #nyc #naija #Liberi

Chase Walker is a self-taught fine artist, photographer,graphic designer, and illustrator from Liberia a small West African country.  He now lives in Philadelphia, PA.

Chase's childhood was interrupted by a vicious civil war that forced his family to flee from Liberia to neighboring Ghana. There, the exhausted and frightened refugees were placed in a crowded camp for six long years.  Even as a little boy Chase was curious and didn't let  the chaos and camp walls contain his lively imagination (or stop some juvenile hare-brained "escape" attempts too.) But  a box of old, donated comic books sparked the creativity that fueled his spirit of exploration - first as he read the stories, but then as he began to copy the illustrations on the ground, with the only tools he had - branches, mud,and his own fingers.   

At war's end Chase returned to Liberia and High School where he was hired to draw comics for a local newspaper.  Quickly thereafter his political cartoons, first for the Daily Observer and then Front Page Africa became well-known as sharp, critical commentaries on the newly democratic Liberia.  But every moment Chase wasn't working on pointed barbs for hire his paycheck and energies went to buying and using every artistic tool he could find, photography, watercolors, oil, pastels, pencil, charcoal, and even mud, filled the notebooks, canvases and every scrap of paper he could find.   During this second phase of his art self-education Chase was lucky enough to find Leslie Lumeh, a renowned  Liberian artist, who served as a mentor and guide.  It was later noted by a seasoned Art Director that art schools often frightens students out of experimentation and into a single medium.  But with no one to tell him otherwise Chase was joyful and fearless as he explored all of the tools and mediums he hadn't even known existed as a small boy in that Ghanain refugee camp.   

Eager to use his skill to tell visual stories about his experiences and culture, Chase has had many artistic and commercial successes in Liberia. He was hired to illustrate a series of  children's books published by CODE, a Canadian NGO, and and to design social marketing campaigns for international organizations such as UNESCO.  He also illustrated Big Belly Business, a Liberian pregnancy guide and program funded by the US State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues that has reached over 50,000 Liberian women and is supported by the Open Society Foundation.   But there was still so much to learn. 

In 2013 Chase received a fellowship to study at the SI Newhouse School of Communications at  Syracuse University.  Now in the United States he is learning how to be a working artist in a cold country.  

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