A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Painting the Past

By Liam Griffin on March 30, 2021

Imagining this nation’s Founding Fathers as real people can be a difficult task. Fortunately, Nathan Loda, MFA ’15, has found a solution—creating paintings that reimagine the Founding Fathers as hipsters. The idea originated as a commission from the Farmers Restaurant Group in 2016, but Loda has continued the series in the years since with his paintings of Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin, and others currently hanging in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

He also has a commissioned painting in the new Education and Rehearsal Wing of Mason’s Hylton Performing Arts Center that depicts musicians participating in the Veterans and the Arts Initiative.

Nathan Loda, MFA ’15, in his home studio with one of his daughters. Photo provided

Loda’s life has changed greatly since 2017 when he was working as an adjunct professor at Mason. He and his wife had two children and moved to rural Homer, New York. The change of scenery may seem like a strange choice to some, but Loda saw the move as an enticing opportunity. “I was ready to try a career as a full-time painter,” he says. “And with the relatively low cost of living up here, I thought it would be a great place to sink or swim.”

The move to New York and the switch to full-time painting have also affected Loda’s perspective and work. “The idea of being a full-time working artist is probably my biggest inspiration,” he says. “Waking up every day with a work schedule that says it’s time to paint is a rewarding lifestyle for me and keeps me wanting to do it longer.”

Loda splits his attention between gallery work, in which he can express himself creatively, and commissions. “A lot of my current business can be traced back to connections that I created while I was a graduate student at Mason.”

One of the key factors that led Loda to choose Mason was the many facilities available to students. “I was blown away [by] the Art and Design Building and the incredible studio spaces. I remember thinking that, between the 2D studios, wood shop, and metal shop, I could fabricate just about anything I could imagine.”

Loda still vividly remembers his Mason experience. “Showing up to my graduate studio and having the opportunity to paint in a setting where people could easily stop by, and new connections were made almost weekly, was invaluable to my career today.”

He encourages artists at Mason to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. “Try and create
as many networking connections as you can while in school and while you have so many resources at your

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