Nelson Mandela lives on through local artist's paintings

By Gregory Woods

CHARLESTON, S. C. (WCIV) -- Luke Vehorn moved to South Africa when he was 7 years old with his parents to do missionary work.

Now a local Charleston painter, he leaves all the lessons Nelson Mandela taught him on the canvas.

"My portraits show how approachable he was, how playful he was, his good sense of humor and his ability to turn that into leadership." said Vehorn.

When Vehorn was in the sixth grade, he experienced first hand Mandela's influence on his country.

"I remember the day when our principal actually announced that there would be black students coming to school and to continue as normal and be friendly," he said. "That's when the name Nelson Mandela really became known to me and when I started asking questions like, 'Who was he?' and, 'Why was he in jail?'"

Soon, more changes would help unite South Africa.

"I remember coming to the school the next year and one of the guys in my class was named Andile NuNu. It was interesting to see we were all dressed the same, spoke many different accents, but we were all considered South African" said Vehorn.

Integration of schools and creating a new inclusive South Africa, also meant a new and inclusive representation of the country.

"I had an old South African flagthe orange, white, and blue onehanging on my wall, but after the new flag came out, I took my old one down and went out to get a new one." said Vehorn.

Memories of one man's courage changed this local artist's life. The canvas is his passion, and Mandela his inspiration.

"We have a portrait I painted hanging in our house. It's there to remind us to be a forgiving loving people, and to be kind.

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