Drea George, a multimedia specialist and student supervisor at the Reeder Media Center, displays her passion for art in the pieces she creates down in the basement of Earl Gregg Swem Library.
Through her work at the Reeder Media Center, George uses the Center’s equipment to help assist the 16 students she supervises while she continues to create her own art. Working at the College has allowed her to find a new creative outlet, while providing her with an opportunity to teach students who have interests similar to her own.
“It’s been really fulfilling as a teaching experience, you know, I get to watch these younger people be interested in stuff that I’m interested in and learn and be excited about the stuff that we have,” George said. “That’s something I’ve never really experienced before.”
“It’s been really fulfilling as a teaching experience, you know, I get to watch these younger people be interested in stuff that I’m interested in and learn and be excited about the stuff that we have.”
This summer, George participated in the Virginia Library Association’s LGBTQ+ art forum. This forum challenges Virginia librarians and library staff to create art that explores LGBTQ+ ideas. George placed second at the forum, which gave her the opportunity to display her art at the VLA conference earlier this month.
The theme for this contest was “queer joy,” which challenged George to approach the work from a different constructive approach.
“I don’t really make a lot of art that is sociopolitical and all,” George said. “A lot of my work is just kind of funny or moody or colorful. Stuff that I’m interested in, you know?”
However, as a bisexual woman herself, George saw this task as a challenge to adapt her traditional artistic process.
George shared her analysis of the conceptual nature of “queer joy” in her blog post about her creative process in creating this piece. Rather than approaching the concept from a flashy perspective, George wanted to abandon the stereotypical idea of queer joy that large corporations utilize.
“Large corporations willfully exploit queer symbolism to capitalize on a community disenchanted with big brands — demonstrably only during the single month of the year in which it is profitable for them to do so. With this in mind, I deliberately avoided this attitude with my piece,” George wrote in her blog post.
“Large corporations willfully exploit queer symbolism to capitalize on a community disenchanted with big brands — demonstrably only during the single month of the year in which it is profitable for them to do so. With this in mind, I deliberately avoided this attitude with my piece.”
Prior to the competition, George had recently been drawn to tarot cards and their meanings. She decided to utilize “The Lovers” and “The Moon” and their meaning to inspire her piece. The “Lovers” card is related to relationships, connections and sacrifices. The “Moon” card, although interpretations may vary, ultimately connects to ideas of intuition, dreams and confronting fear and uncertainty.
“The one about the moon talks about hope and dreaming. It’s kind of like a spiritual sort of card and I thought that was a nice parallel to the energy that I had been used to,” George said.
George’s piece portrays two figures sitting together, staring up at the moon through a window-like space. The piece not only incorporates the themes of the two tarot cards but also pulls from Classical and Renaissance art.
Some of the elements of Renaissance art can be seen through the portrayal of the two figures. Often in Renaissance art, if people were portrayed as looking upwards, it was often perceived as the figures looking up towards a religious figure. When drawing the two figures, George specifically wanted them sitting and looking up so that it looked like they were looking out towards their future or towards a larger desire.
“I was thinking about how Classical art and Renaissance art a lot of the times have figures looking up and it’s like a God thing, right? So, I wanted to channel that because that’s what it felt like to me. You know, queer joy is like the most spiritual experience. It’s like the most pure and true thing that I’ve ever felt. So, I wanted to express that in an artistic way that references these other things,” George said.
Her unique artistic style is evident in this piece. George typically uses the style of thicker lines, blocky and more ornamentation shapes. She also experimented with different techniques until she was happy with the methods she was using, which is why this piece took her a longer time to create.
“It took me, I think a month,” George said. “It was a lot of time and thought and energy. I really had to think about it for a long time before I could make it. I think I spent maybe a few days actually making it, but it took me a really long time to get comfortable with the line quality and everything.”
George also enjoys producing other artistic works for the College and for herself. One of her favorite projects at the College was a video she produced to commemorate and celebrate former research librarian Natasha McFarland’s years at the College at her retirement party. George collected many documents, videos and pictures from McFarland’s colleagues and friends, and planned out the video to have a smooth, flowing progression.
“It was this very beautiful, lovely thing. It was an honor to produce and really fulfilling for me, just as a creative person, to construct this bigger thing from a bunch of pieces that others had made.”
“It was this very beautiful, lovely thing. It was an honor to produce and really fulfilling for me, just as a creative person, to construct this bigger thing from a bunch of pieces that others had made,” George said.
George also enjoys making art in her free time. Sketching, storyboarding and animation are some of the many forms of art that she creates. To see more of her art, you can visit her website here.