“New ways of seeing and showing”: Rachel Kerwin’s Torpedo Factory mural

photo by Guido Krüger

To celebrate the Torpedo Factory’s tenth anniversary in May 1984, several artists decorated the spiral staircase that runs from the first floor to the second. Combining personal reflections with intriguing allusions to the building’s past, the resulting works nicely camouflage a massive furnace chimney, but they also serve as a snapshot of our history—and this year, we’ll mark our 40th anniversary with another work of public art that will pay tribute to our community for years to come.

If you’ve entered the Torpedo Factory from the waterfront recently, you may have spotted artist Rachel Kerwin hard at work on a new mural. Look closely at her painting-in-progress and you’ll recognize familiar scenes based on the waterfront and the Torpedo Factory interior, rendered in a style that deliberately reinforces our artists’ long-standing commitment to creativity, outreach, and education.

“My plan was to use a commonplace way of learning art, the paint-by-number, to mimic what happens in the Factory every day,” Kerwin says. “Both children and adults come here to learn the basics of art making, while artists use that framework and the resources of the building to explore new ways of seeing and showing.”

Kerwin estimates she needs another month, so there’s plenty of time to peek into the waterfront entryway and watch as this mural come alive, one section at a time.

“As the visitor moves around the space, I want to have areas where this intricate line drawing will be filled in with sporadic color,” Kerwin says, “but I also want places where the color breaks away and becomes more dynamic and abstract. What better way to capture the varied experiences of this place?”

If you don’t see Rachel Kerwin working on the mural at the Torpedo Factory’s waterfront entrance, look for her in studio 203, and explore more of her work at her website, her Facebook page, and her Etsy store.

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