Commissioned piece is just the beginning of the changes at the art center. —Jessica Godart
When the Torpedo Factory opened its doors 40 years ago, its modus operandi was to take its surroundings and turn it into art—renovating a venue of war paraphernalia making into a gathering space for artists. Looking forward to its next 40 years the center is, again, taking its surroundings as inspiration, using the streets of Alexandria as the blueprint for the latest artwork.
Art is a moving, living medium and the changes at Torpedo Factory are changing in this vein through a new look, logo, website and programs.
New programs are still under wraps, but the new look reflects the “contemporary” and “sophisticated” feel that CEO of the Factory, Eric Wallner, wanted. The Factory is “really looking at how we [can] thrive for the next 40 years.”
Entrusted with patrons first look at the new face of the Torpedo Factory, resident artist Rachel Kerwin, was commissioned to create the mural that transposes the outside streets of Alexandria into the space at the waterfront entrance. After a call for entry, 13 artists responded, but Kerwin’s proposal won over the rest. “[Kerwin] had a really imaginative approach to the space,” says Wallner.
“It’s a great representation of both the physical environment around us and the creative atmosphere that happens in the building.”
Currently working in Studio 203 of the art center, Kerwin spent a total of over 200 hours sketching and painting the mural, mostly during business hours when visitors would pass by and see her creation at work. “It helped me think about the piece and how people see it,” she says.
The initial idea of the piece was based on a paint-by-numbers vision the artist had with large sections of the mural remaining outlined and uncolored. Kerwin took photos of the surrounding area of the building and then projected it on the wall, tracing the pictures before coloring in the final product.
Kerwin describes her 436-square-foot piece, “Coloring Outside the Lines,” as a “panoramic view” of scenes of life outside the building flowing into an abstract fusion of shapes and colors. When planning the mural, which wraps the entryway walls, Kerwin took care to keep a Factory favorite: the chalkboard that visitors are able to draw, write and create on. The board has been repainted and the mural blends into the piece.