Chester Lee III, aka “Rage Madness,” explains that the reason for his artist’s name is that he is trying to show how to express anger through artwork and creativity. A current project focuses on Barbie dolls taking their lives. Rage feels that in our current culture, the emphasis on beauty is too great, particularly with little girls. As he put it, “Beauty is not everything! We should stop raising kids to be Barbie and Ken. When they don’t turn out like Barbie and Ken, bad things happen.
Rage is a poet and photographer who specializes in pencil-sketch photos. He shoots mostly in bars and clubs, and would like a job as an ‘in-house photographer.’ He said he would even take a job as a photographer’s assistant, or any other job that would help lead to an art career. He is interested in meeting someone who might help him with matting and framing some of his work, so that he might get a toe-hold on establishing himself as an artist. Another big need is a laptop computer on which he could store sample displays of his work.
From Atlanta, he has been in Asheville about a year. He always worked temporary jobs, but for the first time, now is homeless. “Temporary jobs always run out,” he said. He had art shows in Atlanta, and did a lot of volunteer work. He was involved in feeding the homeless there and considers himself a “protector of and advocate for human rights.” In Asheville he has volunteered with the Homeless Network, Be-Loved, and with us at Haywood Street Congregation.
Today he was looking for a safe place to camp, as he was recently “run out” of his campsite because it was on Federal property. He said he sometimes struggles with substance abuse, but has learned that it interferes greatly with his self-respect and creativity, and does not consider himself an addict.
Rage says he has a clean record, except for a DUI several years ago. He has some training as a welder (Chattanooga State College) but dropped out before getting certified. He also spent a while studying early childhood education at GA Piedmont College in Atlanta. He has considered trying to further his education, but his heart is set on trying to make it as an artist.
Rage is a pleasant, articulate young man with big dreams for his life. He feels that being homeless has caused him to focus on his creativity and art, and has increased his self-awareness and confidence in his abilities. He would someday like to write a book, “Starving Artists,” to help other young artists know what to expect and to get started in their own careers.