New Torpedo Factory exhibit is a celebration of the female form

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By Jennifer Powell (Courtesy photo)

Throughout my 25 years in Alexandria, the Torpedo Factory has been a constant for inspiration and creativity. When in need of some rejuvenation, a stroll through the floors full of friendly artists at work in open studios feels like a much-needed treat. This is the go-to spot for impressing visitors as well as great way of keeping children occupied with a fun art scavenger hunt.

As I took a recent trip to the Torpedo Factory for personal enjoyment, I noticed that the arts center feels much like it did 25 years ago. The diverse art produced there is exceptional and resident artists continue to create in their studios while welcoming passersby with a readiness to talk art and process.

On this day, the Scope Gallery was my destination. Found on the first floor, Scope is a cooperative gallery focusing on clay creations since 1974. More than 30 Washington-area artists exhibit at Scope, and each personalizes their art form and technique, whether through crystalline glazing, salt, raku and wood-fired vessels or pit and horsehair pottery.

The gallery described its latest exhibit, “Feminine Forms: Beauty and Strength” as “a take on sisterhood that shows both polish and rugged abstracts with a solid foundation in ceramic artistry.

“Channeling an inner Earth mama, potters celebrate the fairer sex in artistry. Whether it be womanly curves or a Venus figure that echoes Eve, artists elevate females, exploring the wonder of women.”

Upon entering we were greeted by the lovely sculpted figure “Grace.” Standing atop a pedestal at eye level, the sculpture is about two feet tall, but it is her beautiful gown that catches the eye. Wrapped layers of clay are edged with unique spots of hardened and glazed bits that give the piece an aesthetic that is both curious and unique.

Here Christine Morenhout-Hubloue, who made “Grace,” was manning the gallery and answering questions. Her other work ranged from a group of three “divine sisters” wearing sculptural dresses, fun expressions and shell hats to a gorgeous stonewear candle holder of three linked angels.

The angels’ gowns employ a treatment unique to Morenhout-Hubloue. She utilizes scraps of antique lace fabric to roll into the soft clay, creating beautifully intricate and ornate patterns that she then accentuates with a standout color.

As incredible as Morenhout-Hubloue’s own work is, she was equally invested in introducing us to other exhibitors’ work as well, highlighting their unique processes, specialties or finish.

For an incredible lesson in what makes ceramic art great, stop in one day this month before they’re gone.

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