George Thigpen is a valued employee who has worked at the Oak Marr Recreation Center for eight years. During the course of his work at Oak Marr, it was discovered that he has a very special talent.
This discovery began when Thigpen started creating portraits of Oak Marr employees and their spouses. And it was then that it became apparent he has a very unique style, and utilizes some very interesting artistic methods. His style of art is called “portrait collage,” and he begins by producing a pencil drawing of a subject, usually from a photograph. From that drawing, and beginning with the eyes, he then begins to build the subject’s face with cut pieces of acid free construction paper, which are attached with glue. His inspiration came long ago from a junior high school art teacher in Costa Rica. He is primarily self-taught. Other strong influences for him have been Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits, and Charles Thomas Close, an American painter and photographer. Thigpen has worked in this medium for approximately 20 years.
Among outstanding works is his most recent piece, called “Afghani Mother and Child”. His best known work is based on the famous National Geographic cover from 1985 entitled “Afghani Girl”. Afghani Mother and Child is currently on display at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery located at Reston Community Center at Lake Anne Village Center, where he is a member of the League of Reston Artists, and has submitted his work into competitions. This most recent piece recently won “Best of Show.” His work is also displayed in other locations, such as at a restaurant in Sterling, Va., and most of his completed works are for sale. (And yes, he accepts commissions for portraits.) His current work in progress is a portrait of his father, who is turning 90 years old this year!
Sadly for all who have come to know him, our local artist is planning to retire in approximately two years. And for both his dedicated work at Oak Marr and his unique artistic talents, he will be sorely missed!
Written by Ken Adams, Fairfax County Park Authority volunteer