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Best Fire Painter 

Kolpeace

Staff Pick

When we first met with Charleston Southern University student Chris Johnson a.k.a. Kolpeace last May, we were immediately impressed with his equanimity and drive. He told us “I’m not just doing this for myself ... I want to encourage other artists. Nowadays, people just want everything on the table, for it to be easy. But you have to push, you have to go beyond what you think you can do.” Since that talk, Kolpeace — who speed paints with spray paint and fire in front of live audiences, creating stunning portraits of strong black figures — has more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, has performed at South By South West and the Volvo Car open, has painted the inimitable Joe Riley, hung out with Jewel during Christmas and painted singer/songwriter Atz Kilcher ­— he’s been busy. And even with his ever growing fanbase, Johnson still performs for kids, setting up shop in a high school gym as easily as he would on a SXSW stage. Follow him on the ‘gram: @kolpeace. —Mary Scott Hardaway

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