Starkville High junior Maggie George draws most of her inspiration from her family, so it”s fitting she send her grandmother to Washington D.C. to hang out for a year.
George recently won the 2011 Congressional Art Competition with a charcoal and chalk drawing of her grandmother titled “Reflections of My Grandmother.” The winning piece will now grace the walls of the Capitol building for a year along with 49 other state winners.
George was already an award-winning artist, but winning the statewide competition was a vindication of the countless hours she spent working on this piece and others.
“I was really excited but also really relieved because I”ve worked hard on some other pieces that haven”t gotten anything. So for this, it”s like my hard work has finally paid off. It was worth staying up all night,” she said.
And she really did stay up all night. George spent entire days perfecting the drawing, eschewing meals in favor of energy bars, sleeping as little as 30 minutes a night at least once.
The process began in Dallas, Texas, where George”s aunt took several photographs of her grandmother, Peggy Kirkland, at George”s request.
“When we did the photos, she abstained from putting on any of her makeup, which was a big sacrifice for her,” said George. “But she really liked it. I actually show a lot of her wrinkles.”
George selected three photos and loaded them into Photoshop, where she combined them into one digital image. From that image, she began lightly shading the first gray layers of her drawing, where mistakes could still be corrected, before adding the permanent black.
George”s art instructor at SHS, Andrew Lark, said she”s a natural at every medium she tries.
“Maggie”s ability to adapt is phenomenal. Any medium I put her in, you”re basically going to see the same thing,” he said.
That ability to adapt, as well as her struggle with the drawing, can be viewed as analogous to the drawing”s inspiration.
“My grandmother has been a great inspiration to me and she”s a really strong person. So, I wanted to portray that and portray a lot of depth because she”s been through a lot of hard times and still come through and conquered everything. She”s my inspiration for persistence,” said George. “She grew up during the Great Depression and her family was very poor and had a lot of crises. She”s worked through everything and been the one pillar of the family that keeps everybody steady.”
Persistence and determination would serve George well in this case.
“There were a lot of times where I”d stand back and say ”I hate it. It looks awful.” But then you come back the next day and it starts to look better. You just have to push through all the things that are tough to deal with,” she said.
George isn”t sure if she”ll major in art or even where she”ll go to school. If she does go into art, she”ll merge the worlds of computer aided design and hand-made art, just as she did for her award-winning work.
“As art progresses, that”s becoming more synonymous. You can take things you draw by hand and put it in the computer. I think I”d be strong in both things if I chose to do illustration,” she said.
George will travel to D.C. in June for an award ceremony.
She was joined by a couple SHS classmates in winning awards at the state level. Hal Sullivan won first and third place in the photography competition and George Bennett won second place in photography.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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