I was first introduced to Jef Campion, aka Army of One, in 2011 while hunting NYC streets for curbside masterpieces to document through photography. My friend and I walked down Freeman Alley and we were surrounded by a sea of beautiful street art – one of which was Jef Campion’s interpretation of Diane Arbus’ photograph of a boy holding a toy grenade. Army of One was ubiquitous in the streets of NYC. Now we were curious and enthralled.
My fellow photographer had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jef Campion and was lucky to become his friend, She invited me to quite a few openings and events where Jef was either showing or painting. His red hand print, the symbol of senseless innocent blood that is shed by children affected by war, was and will remain in my mind. It is a strong reminder and iconic symbol of what he fought so hard against. But through his volunteer efforts and the placement of his art in the streets that he spread that message.
Jef could light up a room with his smile then make you feel protected, loved and appreciated with his hugs, This special person who cannot only be described as a street artist, but also as a firefighter, a 9/11 first responder who spent months in the recovery effort, a volunteer fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, and a rare talent. He was an extremely special person.
While Jef’s work on the streets of NYC will go through the process of environmental decay, his spirit will live on through our hearts and minds. Jef, you will be so very missed by those who knew you and your art. An “Army of One” has indeed touched millions of hearts!
Article and Photos by: Olya Turcihin