Colleagues reflect on the many accomplishments of retiring Professor Susan Miskelly
When Ivana George saw the AIDS Quilt in Washington, D.C., more than 35 years ago, it struck her that art could serve deeper purposes. It sent the professor of photography on a decades-long journey that is still unfolding.
“I came to a point in my artmaking where I realized the power of art to convey really important messages about the social and environmental issues of our time in a way that words cannot,” she said.
Pushing her further along this activist path was viewing the 2006 documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. “After seeing the film, I decided I would focus my art career on all the different topics and issues surrounding the environment,” Professor George said. “I believe it’s the most pressing issue of our lifetime.”
Over the years, her photography has captured the effects of deforestation in the Amazon, the fragility of glacial waters and an expanding series of images that examine the idea of sustainability.
Professor George is also living her commitment. Several years ago, she and her husband established an organic vegetable garden with a goal of reducing their carbon footprint and eating healthier with fresh, nutritious produce. And, in her artwork, whenever possible she uses methods and materials that are environmentally friendly. For instance, her pigment ink works are printed on recycled or reclaimed cotton fiber paper produced in a United States plant that uses wind power.
“There’s a lot to explore in my work, and I like it to be a starting point for dialogue; that’s important,” Professor George said. “The ideal role for an artist is to engage people on the most important social and environmental issues of our time.”
Her artwork may carry an important message, but it doesn’t skimp on aesthetics. “I like to use beauty as a form of visual seduction, because if the work isn’t visually appealing, people aren’t going to engage with the content,” she said.
Professor George hopes viewers will find much in her art, to stimulate both the senses and the conscience. “Hopefully my work presents ideas my audience can engage with, while at the same time enjoying the beauty of the work,” she said.
To learn more about Professor George’s art, visit her website, www.ivanadamiengeorge.com, where you’ll also find a helpful guide to buying fine art photography, in particular pieces that are more environmentally friendly.