As a figure skater, Matej Silecky has been fortunate to travel to many places around the planet. In addition to packing his skates, Silecky often packed a camera and, now, he’s using his photographs as a fundraiser for the Verona Rescue Squad.
“I wanted to support the community and the people who are out there helping us,” Silecky says.
Among the Rescue Squad volunteers who have been out helping Verona is one person with a particular place in Silecky’s heart: his father, Markian, who has been an ambulance driver for the past year. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the elder Silecky facilitated donations of personal protective equipment to first responders and hospitals in our area, but he later learned of the squad’s need for drivers through an unusual local connection. The younger Silecky’s former pairs skating coach, Felicia Zhang, has also been a VRS volunteer.
“My dad said, ‘well I drove buses when I was in college’,” Matej Silecky says, adding that his father, an international corporate attorney, has come to love driving for the Squad. “It’s inspiring to see him in a different field.”
Matej Silecky believes that his photos could also be inspiring. “I think that they can bring people closer to the travel that they’ve been reaching for since the pandemic started,” he says. “Travel is amazing. You can have a cultural experience that connects you with people in different places.”
You can see many different places on Matej Silecky’s photography website, from the Netherlands to France, Japan, Hong Kong and more. For the VRS fundraiser, Silecky has pledged to donate 20% of the profit from every photo sold if shoppers use the code VRS20. (If you want to see some of his photos in person, head over to Cedar Beans in Cedar Grove, where they are on display for a few more days. “The owner is super-supportive of artists,” Silecky says.)
While Matej Silecky is running this fundraiser for his hometown first responders, he is actually skating and photographing far away—in southern California. Silecky had been coaching skating for a while, but was recruited back to pairs skating to compete in figure skating’s national championship this coming January. In between training sessions in Irvine, Calif., he is exploring landscapes and cityscapes that he says are very different from the northern California he came to know as a college student at the University of California, Berkeley.
And however people see his photographs, Silecky hopes they can share what he experiences when he takes them. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel since I was a child,” he says. “Photography allows me to capture what I feel and see in the moment.”