Text/Subtext show celebrates our diversity

Text/Subtext art abound this month in the Torpedo Factory Art Center! The show celebrates the diversity of TFAA with close to 80 participating artists celebrating the Factory’s 40th anniversary year. We asked three of those participating a bit about their chosen entries and how they have utilized text in their media.

Tracie Griffith Tso Scope Gallery #19

griffithtsoTracie draws inspiration from her childhood training in traditional Chinese brushwork, which emphasizes simplicity and harmony in composition. “I often use lucky red auspicious chops or seals in my work,” she says. “Chinese art subjects are often symbolic; flowers and animals mean different things. Fish represent prosperity because, in Chinese, the word for ‘fish’ sounds like the word for ‘money’.” Thus, Tracie gives her collectors a bit of luck, happiness, prosperity or longevity with her artwork.

With the Text/Subtext theme, she illustrated a catchy phrase and embellished it with a chop, then added an embossed English translation on the rim of the plate. Yellow ducklings (lucky ducks) have a good luck chop, bunnies snuggling are paired with a love seal (love bunnies), and pandas have a peace symbol (peaceful pandas). There is a physical text in two languages that provides a subtext for the illustrated story adding layers of expression.

Rachel Kerwin Studio #203

kerwinRachel Kerwin is a newbie to using text explicitly in her work, though she notes, “I’ve always been interested in the way language can change the work or give the viewer context.” Inspired by her participation in Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st Century, a collection of first-person opinions and essays of young writers on a host of global issues, Rachel focused on the word “speak” as the starting point of trying to cut through the chaos when contemplating how to approach such a diverse set of themes. “Text, or language, was an opportunity for clarity but I also felt like this work touched on the act of speaking out – expression – in its many forms.” SPEAK is smoke on paper.

Carolyn Dutky Romano Studio #203


Where there is smoke, there is fire. Carolyn Dutky Romano knows this implicitly in her wood fired piece Out of the Fire featuring an infant with the word ILLEGAL stamped across her forehead. The title is an abbreviated and reversed form of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Romano has utilized text in both her printmaking and ceramics artistic career.

Text, real or implied offers a glimpse into the conceptual thinking of the artist. As you go around the Torpedo Factory, see how many pieces you can find with text in them and how the text impacts you as the viewer!

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