The City Magazine Since 1975

Wide Awake

Wide Awake
December 2018

John Duckworth creates to help others open their eyes

For a mellow, introspective guy, John Duckworth is more than bold in his work. Take, for example, transforming City Gallery into a Zen den of sorts, as he did in his 2014 show “Awake.” Or the wildly ambitious “Wade in the Water” in 2016, in which Duckworth corralled photographers, gospel singers, composers, and artists to turn the abandoned roller rink above the new Redux into a multimedia meditation on climate change. In his John’s Island studio, the artist creates photographic landscapes and paintings that speak to an intrinsic connection between the inner self and the world around us, one that Duckworth, a father, adventurer, and advocate, feels strongly.

Creative juices: I’m motivated to inspire others to be curious about who they are and why, with the eyes of a student learning something new. I make little distinction among business, family, and art; it’s all a creative process. My challenge is rarely a lack of inspiration—it’s choosing among the things I’m fascinated by on a regular basis.

(Left) Duckworth’s One as All (painting on canvas, 2012) and (right) Grey Bay (photograph, 2012)

Pushing the edge: I began making large, complex installations as a way to more deeply engage the audience, and incorporating audio and video into the experience helped capture attention. Multimedia projects immerse the viewer and encourage them to be more present.

Diving into podcasting: Call to Adventure was such an unexpected surprise. I’ve loved exploring other people’s journeys into the unknown. Ohm Radio gave us our initial platform, and now you can find us on iTunes and SoundCloud, too. Next up, my cohost, Alex Opoulos, and I interview life coach Elli Richter, Geshela from the Tibet Center, and artist Jah Sun. If you’re new to the podcast, check out the episode with local artist Robert Lange; it’s one of my favorites.

Giving back: I’m proud to serve on the board of Charleston Moves. We’re making great strides in helping create safe and equitable mobility options across the county.

Getting out there: Artists often work alone, and like everyone, we are energized by affirmation, so it’s tremendously satisfying to see my artwork in public spaces. My abstract photographs are coming soon to the SC Ports Authority and the lobby of the new MUSC Children’s Hospital (where they will be two-story-tall installations).

What next: I’m working on an idea for a new multimedia installation—one that attempts to remind us that we are not something separate from nature, but fundamentally part of nature.



Images by (One as All & Grey Bay) courtesy of John Duckworth