She is an International Federation of Sports Climbing world champ, the first North American woman to climb a French-rated 9a route (equivalent to a 5.14d rating in the U.S.) and also the first woman to free-climb “Magic Mushroom” in Switzerland’s Burmese Alps.
She redpointed (free-climbing a route after having practiced or researched it beforehand) Kentucky’s “Pure Imagination” and won three gold medals at the Panamerican Championships of Freeclimbing in 2012.
He’s a New Jersey–based artist originally inspired by the surf who became an internationally acclaimed fine artist, photographer and designer. He’s been featured in galleries from New York to California to Brazil, created commercial art for Billabong, Emergen-C and Original Skateboards and done live paintings on stage with streetwear brand Mishka, surfer/musician Donavon Frankenreiter and band The Expendables.
Most recently, he (Jay Alders) painted her (Sasha DiGiulian) doing what she does best, which is climbing rocks.
“I had been admiring Sasha’s social media posts for a year or so. I commented a few times and got a couple responses back from her. Some months after that, I got a message from her manager, Luke Tipple at Delve Creative, saying how he digs my art,” Alders tells GrindTV.
Sasha Digiulian, world champion climber, collaborated with artists Jay Alders for a unique piece of climbing art. Photo Courtesy Greg Mionske/Red Bull.
Sasha DiGiulian, world-champion climber, collaborated with Jay Alders for a unique piece of climbing art. Photo: Courtesy of Greg Mionske/Red Bull Content Pool
“We got to talking, connected and he went on to tell me about Sasha, as if I didn’t already know who she was,” he laughs. “I was really stoked, but not shocked at how the universe again helped me to manifest connecting with like-minded people whom I admire.”
Alders had gotten into rock climbing about two years earlier, ingesting all manner of climbing videos and online content.
“It’s pretty much impossible to not hear about and see Sasha in action with her power and fluency. She’s graceful, intelligent, well spoken, and I was impressed by her accomplishments within the realm of climbing,” Alders adds.
“In addition to my twins, who are a year old, I have a 3-year-old daughter, and I really love seeing an empowered woman like Sasha showing the world that women can do anything.”
Last summer, Alders headed to Brooklyn and met up with DiGiulian at a bouldering facility under the Manhattan Bridge, where they found common ground with climbing, surfing and the creative process.
“During our meeting in Manhattan,” says Alders, “we took a series of photos. I watched her climb and asked a lot of questions to understand her connection with climbing. A lot of my work is more intuitive than precise, and I wanted the painting that I did of her to feel like a true collaboration and not just a painting of her.
“She told me about some visions and ideas that I incorporated into the painting.”
The result is a stunning piece called “State of Flow,” the likes of which is rarely found in the climbing world. Alders admits it’s a bit less “surrealistic trippy” than a lot of his work, but the 16 x 48-inch acrylic on wood captures a certain beauty, strength and intensity. The original has DiGiulian’s signature on the back.
“I have been a longtime fan of Jay’s artwork. It was a dream come true to be able to work on a collab piece with him,” DiGiulian tells GrindTV. “We met at The Cliffs climbing in NYC and discussed underlying themes about what I feel while climbing and why it is my passion.
“We spoke about the concept of flow and the state that I enter while climbing, in which everything peripheral fades away and I am solely focused on the next move in front of me. There is a mind/body convergence in this state that I experience in which I am not consciously telling my body what to do, nor mentally processing what my body is doing. The motions just happen, and this is my optimal state.
“As an artist, Jay could relate with this concept and we agreed that we would like to reflect this sense of flow in the art piece.”
The pair met up again, this time at an NYC fundraiser for Right to Play, a global non-profit that offers athletic opportunities to children in need. Alders did a live painting of DiGiulian climbing, this one called “At Arm’s Length,” to raise awareness for the organization.
Both the original “State of Flow” piece and limited-edition prints of “At Arm’s Length” are for sale.