Growing Strong at the Graduate Art Show: A Talk With Reilly Gordon

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By Evan Mason | emason3@radford.edu

On Mar. 20, Radford University hosted the Graduate Art Show exhibition in the McConnell library.

The art on display was made by graduate art students from the Radford University Graduate Student Art Association.

Most of my work focuses on the female experience. I like watercolor and use pens as well. Watercolor has this quality that can capture color and expression very well and my pieces tend to be very emotional, so it’s a natural medium for my work. Radford students gathered around for light refreshments and to examine the art which the pieces were made during the students time at Radford. Some were experimental pieces, as well as different types of media.

When speaking with Reilly Gordon, one of the graduate students in the program, The Tartan asked which of her artworks she liked the most, and which one she enjoyed making the most.

Gordon replied, “In Growing Strong I was inspired by the model. It was her dream and goal as a psychologist to focus on how community gardens in inner cities can help the emotional and nutritional health of children.”

Growing Strong By Reilly Gordon (left), Drops By Alenjandra Moral (top right), and Serenity Amongst Chaos By Reilly Gordon (bottom right).

Gordon continued saying, “I painted her with vegetables, plants, growing around her and her hair also turns into the Chicago skyline because that’s where she was from. So it’s a very personal piece, and I think it has a very sunny and uplifting mood, which accurately portrays the model.”

When asked about the other painting she said, “In Serenity Amongst Chaos, I was feeling very overwhelmed and confused and wanted to gain some clarity amongst all of my stresses. I painted myself with a composed and stoic expression, wanting to be strong in the face of my challenges and free to grow from them.”

“The Lion represents that strength but is also roaring, letting out frustrations, and the birds represent freedom and letting go,” stated Gordon. “This piece was very expressive, and at first, I really didn’t like it, but later when I was in a better place emotionally, I started to love it.”

Radford’s MFA program is small, but I like that aspect because there are more opportunities to really be an individual and get to know everyone in the department and the program.”Gordon went on to explain her creative process, “Most of my work focuses on the female experience. I like watercolor and use pens as well. Watercolor has this quality that can capture color and expression very well and my pieces tend to be very emotional, so it’s a natural medium for my work. The pen has this great mark making quality, and my work is very narrative based, I’m trying to tell a story, so it naturally connects to graphic novel imagery which I am personally influenced by.”

Gordon also says that she enjoys her time in the graduate program, “Radford’s MFA program is small, but I like that aspect because there are more opportunities to really be an individual and get to know everyone in the department and the program.”

If you are interested in more of Gordon’s work, visit her website here.

There are other great works on display for the Graduate Art Show available to see until April 15 so support your local Radford artists.

Photo Credit: (Evan Mason | The Tartan – In the Featured Image is Bailey By Pamela Watkins)