Red Social – Portraits of Collaboration

Red Social – Portraits of Collaboration

By Alejandro García-Lemos and Cynthia Boiter
With a foreward by Ed Madden
$25 from Muddy Ford Press

Artist Bio

Alejandro Garciá-Lemos received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá and a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University in Miami. Alejandro holds strong ties to his culture and his homeland of Colombia. He frequently incorporates symbolism and political issues into his work. Alejandro has been living in the United States for 15 years, and currently resides between Columbia, SC and Atlanta, GA. Alejandro’s works have been exhibited in Colombia and throughout the southeastern United States in numerous solo and group exhibitions, with works in private and public collections.

Author Bio

Cynthia Boiter is a six time winner of the SC Fiction Project, a two time winner of the Piccolo Fiction Open, and the SC Academy of Authors fellowship, and winner of the Porter Fleming Award for fiction. Her non-fiction work has appeared in national publications ranging from Woman’s Day and Family Circle to Southern Living. She is the author of Buttered Biscuits – Short Stories from the South (Muddy Ford Press, 2012), the editor and a contributor to The Limelight, volume 1 (Muddy Ford Press, 2013), a contributor to State of the Heart (USC Press, 2013), a contributor to Inheritance, (Hub City Press, 2001), and the founder and editor-in-chief of Jasper Magazine–The Word on Columbia Arts.


Red Social by Alejandro Garciá-Lemos and Cynthia Boiter is a visual and literary art book that evolved from a 2012 art exhibition of work by Garciá-Lemos at the Goodall Gallery at Columbia College in Columbia, SC. The title of the book and exhibition, Red Social, translates to Social Network in Garciá-Lemos’s native Spanish.

As he approached this body of work, which is made up of 24 unique portraits, Garciá-Lemos who is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, focused on relationship-building and the community of fellow artists and arts lovers he had become enmeshed in in his new home of Columbia, SC. The sitters for each portrait, almost all of whom were close members of his newly formed community, were asked to bring symbolic icons for their sitting and many went so far as to collaborate on their specific portraits. (Several fellow-artists made actual artistic contributions to their portraits.) “The creative space that opened during these sessions provided an atmosphere of candor which mimicked that of the therapist,” the artist says. “I came to realize the importance of a comfort level between the artist and subject and I chose people who have been supportive of me and are truly friends and family”.

Once the series was complete and had been exhibited, Garciá-Lemos hoped to continue in the collaborative spirit so he approached local writer and editor, Cynthia Boiter. It was his idea to have Boiter create short fictional stories about the characters in the portraits–whether she was personally familiar with the characters or not–based on nothing but the title of the portrait and the various icons represented. Boiter says that, “Many of the friends about whom I wrote had to become strangers before they could become subjects about whose inner lives–their worries, fantasies, and insecurities–I could write. But as unconnected as these stories are to the portrait models who inspired them, they are still real stories, I’m sure, that belong to someone else out there.”

The result is a fascinating reverse-process of illustration. Based upon Garciá-Lemos’s paintings, Boiter uses fiction to illustrate the portrait subjects. Each piece of short fiction–few are over 250 words in length–tells the tale of a unique individual with subject matters ranging from love to loss to issues of gender roles, new roles, and throwing off the roles society attempts to impose upon all of us.