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An Artist’s Vision in ‘World Beyond’

When Not Making Ghastly Sets on ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoff, Alum Crafts Eye-popping Costumes

By Chris Carroll

Sev Gedra portrait with headdresses in the background

Portrait by Stephanie S. Cordle; “World Beyond” still courtesy of AMC; mask photo by Victor Vague courtesy of Sev Gedra

At her studio in Richmond, Va., artist Sev Gedra '11, 18' displays some of her work, ranging from delicate fascinators to horned headdresses perfect for a Halloween ball. As a set painter for the new "Walking Dead" spinoff, "World Beyond," below, she creates tableaus of destruction; at bottom, Gedra models a fearsome, eye-catching fish mask and costume she created.

Creeping rust and spreading decay—just a couple of the things that’ll take over our dying civilization after the zombie outbreak. But what if this apocalypse never happens, and the entertainment of millions depends on making everything look as picturesquely awful as if it had?

That’s when you call Sev Gedra ’11, ’18. The studio art and art history grad’s new job is applying an end-of-days patina to locations around her home of Richmond, Va., where AMC shoots the new “Walking Dead” spinoff, “World Beyond,” which premiered last night.

It requires more than just basic skill with a paintbrush. “Making things look random, like they occurred naturally, is really hard, because your brain makes patterns naturally,” Gedra said. “Without realizing it, you start doing things in a predictable way, and it doesn’t look real.”

Still from “World Beyond” showing silhouettes of actorsPredictability isn’t a word that comes to mind in surveying Gedra’s career so far. Since graduating from the University of Maryland, she’s lived around the country and created in a bewildering range of media: delicately beaded fascinators, and similarly delicate yet vaguely menacing horned headdresses; freakish bodily fluid-spewing costumes for the Richmond satiric shock-metal band GWAR; metal furniture crafted from salvaged fire truck springs and other materials; perfectly made-up faces of both the wedding and monstrous, costume ball variety. (Much of her work can be seen at her website, sevgedramakes.com.)

But it seems less random when she describes herself and the group of friends she creates with, including her boyfriend, as “fabricators.” 

“We don’t pick one material,” she said. “My goal in my hobbies, and now my career, is that if you give me a material, I can make whatever you want out of it.” 

That means metal, wood, fabric and her favorite—foam—among others. 

Woman wears mask with large fangsLongtime friend Ianje Castellanos got to know Gedra at local sword-and-sorcery recreational combat events in which Castellanos said her friend is known nationally “as one of the most fearsome female fighters.” 

In addition to pounding competitors with padded swords, she unsheathes her creativity, introducing more realistic-looking shields that have spread throughout this hobbyist community.   

“She’s a badass fighter and a creative badass,” Castellanos said. “It’s amazing to watch her go into a new medium and master it completely.”

After production of “World Beyond” wrapped for the season—season 2’s production schedule is still up in the air—Gedra landed another TV set-painting job with Apple’s upcoming youth basketball drama, “Swagger,” produced by NBA star Kevin Durant and set in Washington, D.C. 

As someone who describes her version of success as “chickens in the backyard and a garden,” Gedra’s not aiming to put down stakes in Hollywood, although she’s willing to camp out just about anywhere for right opportunity—namely, a chance to continue vanquishing new challenges in fabrication.

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