Why are you jurying artists?
Torpedo Factory Art Center aims to be a 21st-century leading arts institution with broad and deep connection to Alexandria residents, visitors, and regional artists. It’s built on equity and high performance, with a curated building of artists at its heart. Earning a studio at the Art Center is a competitive process. Industry standards for artist communities around the world call for re-jurying an average of every 3–5 years to maintain competition, quality, and evolving art-world standards.
Current Resident Artists, as well as regional artists seeking to join the community, are encouraged to apply. The partially blind three-phase process allows a team of four expert, independent jurors to review work for quality and merit. The juror panel will also consider artists’ ability to successfully interact with the general public and positively contribute to the overall Art Center community. As a publicly subsidized space, owned by the residents of Alexandria, it’s imperative that artists meet high standards for awarded spaces, similar to how the City provides grants to non-profits and other arts organizations.
The City of Alexandria manages Torpedo Factory Art Center through the Office of the Arts, a division of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. The City developed a Council-approved Action Plan based on the findings of a 2019 meta-analysis for improving the vibrancy and sustainability of Torpedo Factory Art Center. Of the 15 reports on the Art Center in the meta-analysis, a number of them called for annually re-jurying or re-evaluating Resident Artists. Notably, this includes a 2016 report commissioned by the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association (TFAA). The Action Plan included an annual jury/re-jury process as a key element toward this effort.
By the end of 2024, all Resident Artists at Torpedo Factory Art Center will be re-juried through this new system, and every three years after that.
Can I sell art from my studio? What is the commission?
Yes. All artists at the Art Center are small businesses and are required to have a City of Alexandria Business License. Unlike most art institutions, Torpedo Factory Art Center does not take a commission of art sold in studios.
How do I apply?
The Open Call announcement and application can be found via torpedofactory.org/artopps. The application opens on Submittable and you may begin your application starting March 1, 2022. It’s encouraged to prepare materials for your application as soon as possible. The Open Call announcement also provides links to commonly needed support, such as writing an artist statement, photographing artwork, and writing an artist’s resume or CV.
For reasonable translation or disability accommodations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.746.4570, Virginia Relay 711.
I don’t have a lot of arts experience. Should I apply?
Yes! Torpedo Factory Art Center holds the notion of working toward a world where we are all embraced for who we are and are able to thrive to reach our highest potential. Removing barriers to full participation and belonging in life and culture. Equity means promoting just and fair inclusion throughout our city, and creating the conditions in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.
The best practice is applying. Phase I is based solely on the art, therefore if your portfolio is strong enough, you will advance to the next Phase. Additionally, you will receive juror feedback when you apply. You will also gain experience and have a pre-built portfolio ready to apply to other opportunities.
We strive to eliminate potential barriers in this application, giving everyone an equitable chance to compete. If you find ways to improve this process, please contact email@example.com.
Why are only some studios available?
For the first time in the 48-year history of the Art Center, current artists will be re-juried. Approximately one-third of the studios will be re-juried in 2022, and subsequent studios in the following two years. Studios being re-juried this year were last juried between 1975 and 2003, ranging from 19 to 47 years ago. This exceeds global industry standards for artist communities, which typically re-jury every 3–5 years to maintain competition, quality, and evolving art-world standards.
Torpedo Factory Art Center has 74 studios across three floors. Beginning in 2022, jurying will be divided across three groups to ensure that no one floor or section of the building is unduly burdened by the process. Currently, studios are broken into four groups as follows:
- Group A studios have no artists juried in 1974 and have an artist who was most recently juried between 1975 – 2003. Group A shall be re-juried now, with applications due April 19, 2022.
- Group B studios have no artists most recently juried between 1974 – 2003 and have an artist most recently juried between 2004 – 2017. Group B shall be re-juried in 2023.
- Group C studios have no artists most recently juried between 1974 – 2017 and have an artist most recently juried between 2018 – 2021. Group C shall be re-juried in 2024.
- Founders, artists that had studios in 1974, and their current studio mates are in a separate group and consists of 8 studios. This group is exempt from the re-jurying process and receives year-to-year leases.
Resident galleries and resident arts organizations are not included at this time.
What are the selection criteria?
Selection criteria may be found on the application (link to come).
In short, the application is three (3) Phases and is worth a total of 100 points.
- Phase I considers artistic merit and is judged blind, with jurors only viewing the art. Jurors will be looking for deliberately crafted artwork with an authentic and original point of view that reflects an awareness of current trends and aesthetics in the larger art world. It is worth a maximum of 50 points. Applicants need 33 points to advance.
- Phase II is non-blind and considers applicants’ backgrounds. Jurors will look for artists who can explain their art and who want to engage and interact with the public through their work. They will review applicants’ career highlights and how they have marketed themselves or their work. It is worth 25 points. Applicants need a combined 50 points from Phases I and II to advance.
- Phase III gives the jurors an opportunity to meet and interact with the applicants. This is the first timejurors are seeing the work in-person to review it for quality. Jurors consider the applicants’ ability to communicate about their artwork, with an eye toward their desire to positively engage with the public. It is worth 25 points. Presentations will be open to the public.
Studios shall be awarded based on an application’s score. Applicants (or applicant groups) will be permitted a ranking of their four (4) top studios they wish to lease. The higher the score the more likely to receive a first or second choice studio. Incumbent artists, current Resident Artists at the Art Center, shall be given first right to their current studio if they score high enough to earn a studio and list their current studio as their top choices.
Why do artists re-jury every three years?
Torpedo Factory Art Center aims to be a premier arts community for creatives and a vibrant and fresh destination for visitors from across the region and around the world. The industry standard for artist communities is to re-jury an average of every 3–5 years. Independent jurying challenges the artists in the community to continually strive for excellence and stay current with conversations and trends in the art world outside the Art Center’s doors.
The three-year cycle is predictable and manageable for staff and artists alike. This timeframe allows artists time to establish, grow, and evolve their practices before the next jury cycle begins. Additionally, an ever-evolving art experience brings regenerative energy into the building and opens the door for a sundry of new conversations and collaborations. Visitors experience the reverberations of this flourishing atmosphere.
The jury process invites incumbent artists to show their work alongside outside artists who hope to join the community. These regular and transparent reviews for artistic quality and professionalism ensure the Art Center is adapting and responding to the broader trends and conversations in the larger art world.
There are no limits on how many years an artist can remain at Torpedo Factory Art Center, provided they continue to be accepted through the jury.FAQ for Re-Jurying Artists
How much is a studio?
Studio space will be publicly subsidized rent of $16.88 per square foot per year effective October 2022. It will increase 3% yearly.
This cost includes access to Alexandria’s high-traffic Potomac Waterfront and the King Street commercial corridor, building utilities, property taxes, Art Center marketing, Art Center staffing, professional development opportunities, common area/bathroom custodial, Art Center programming, and other day-to-day operations. Resident Artists may sell their art with no commission taken, a benefit unique in the art world.
How many spaces are available and where can I learn about them?
In 2022, there will be approximately 22 studios available, but it is subject to change. Information about locations and square footage will be released on March 1, 2022 via torpedofactory.org/artopps.
Who are the jurors and how were they selected?
The Jurors shall consist of four experts from the field of art: curatorial, galleries, museums, or academia. Jurors shall be paid an honorarium for their time, talent, and expertise. To foster a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic, efforts are made to include jurors from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences, including age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, educational background, and work experiences.
The jurors take part in every phase of the application process. Jurors receive an orientation on the Submittable application platform and the scoring system.
Jurors shall not have a current financial or artistic relationship with the Torpedo Factory Art Center or the City of Alexandria. Jurors shall sign a Juror Artist-Selection Agreement.
- Zoë Charlton, MFA, Acclaimed artist and Professor of Art at American University
- Jaynelle Hazard, MA, Executive Director and Curator of Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art
- Jack Rasmussen, PhD, Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
- John Ruppert, MFA, Acclaimed artist and Professor of Art at the University of Maryland
Zoë Charlton, MFA, is a Professor of Art at American University in Washington, D.C., holds a seat on the Maryland State Arts Council, and is a board member at the Washington Project for the Arts in D.C. She received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her artwork has been included in national and international exhibitions including The Delaware Contemporary (DE), the Harvey B. Gantt Center (NC), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR), Studio Museum of Harlem (NY), Contemporary Art Museum (TX), the Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Poland), and Haas & Fischer Gallery (Switzerland). She is a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner grant (2012) and a Rubys grant (2014). Museum collections include The Phillips Collection (DC), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR), Birmingham Museum of Art (AL), and Studio Museum in Harlem (NY). She’s participated in a number of residencies, including Artpace Residency (TX), McColl Center for Art + Innovation (NC), Ucross Foundation (WY), the Skowhegan School of Painting (ME), and the Patterson Residency at the Creative Alliance (MD). Charlton co-founded ‘sindikit, a collaborative art initiative, with her colleague Tim Doud to engage their research interests in gender, sexuality, and race. Charlton is serving on an 8-member steering committee at the Baltimore Museum of Art to reimagine equitable and accountable structures and functions of cultural institutions within diverse local and regional communities.
Jaynelle Hazard, MFA is the Executive Director and Curator of Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA), where she builds a critically engaged practice by introducing methods to advance scholarship; extend reach in interdisciplinary experimentation of contemporary art and ideas; and engage audiences of all backgrounds and identities. In previous roles, she has served as Director of Exhibitions at Workhouse Arts Center, supported various art programs such as the corporate contemporary art collection at UBS, and worked with Blank Projects, a contemporary art gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Hazard holds a Bachelor’s of Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. She currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Washington, DC Chapter of Sotheby’s Institute of Art Alumni and on the executive committee for the DC Chapter of ArtTable, Inc., a professional organization dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts.
Jack Rasmussen, PhD is the Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C. Rasmussen earned his Bachelor’s in Art from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, before moving to Washington, D.C., and completing an MFA in Painting, an MA in Arts Management, and an MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology at American University. He worked in the Education Department of the National Gallery of Art before becoming the Assistant Director of the Washington Project for the Arts when it opened in 1975. He then owned and operated the Jack Rasmussen Gallery, a vital part of D.C.’s art scene until he closed in 1983. From 1989 to 1992, Rasmussen helped conceive, launch, and operate the Rockville Arts Place in suburban Maryland (now VisArts). He then became executive director of the Maryland Art Place (MAP) in Baltimore, a nonprofit contemporary arts center serving the Mid-Atlantic. In his 10 years at MAP, he curated a series of cutting-edge shows and off-site projects, introduced a new cabaret space, and heightened community involvement. Rasmussen’s next post—before the Katzen—was executive director of the di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, a contemporary art museum and natural habitat in Napa, Calif. There, he oversaw the care and exhibition of 2,100 artworks indoors and out, and organized traveling exhibitions to establish the di Rosa’s reputation and identity as the premiere venue for Northern California contemporary art. Rasmussen is president of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and is a member of the board of directors for the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival.
John Ruppert, MFA has been a Professor of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park since 1987 and has served as Department Chair for 13 years. He earned his MFA from the School for American Craftsman at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York in 1977. Ruppert has been working in cast metals for more than 40 years and more recently included video, digital 3D printing, and digital composite photography in his process. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in museums, sculpture parks, and galleries across the United States and abroad. His work has been on view in Grounds for Sculpture (NJ), Omi International Sculpture Park (NY), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (NC), Kreeger Museum (DC), Katonah Art Museum (NY), Miami Sculpture Biennale (FL), Katzen Art Center (DC), and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Internationally, Ruppert has shown in China, Latvia, Finland, and Poland. He’s held international residencies in Iceland, Italy, and France, and the Arctic Circle. His art has been reviewed in Art in America, New Art Examiner, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, Art China, and Sculpture magazine. He’s been awarded five Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist grants, the Mary Sawyers Baker Award, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award.
Why is the jury process three phases and only partially non-blind?
The Artist Communities Alliance defines a “Blind” selection as: “selection is based on work samples, without consideration or awareness of personal information.” It defines “Non-blind” selection as: “jurors take into consideration other factors in addition to the quality of work, e.g., project proposals and statements of intent, demographic information, and/or education/exhibition/residency experiences” (from Artist Communities Alliance, Best Practices At-A-Glance Artist-in-Residency Selection, 2011, page 1).
A blind application is more frequently used for jurying exhibitions where the quality of the art is the only factor. Non-blind jurying is more frequently used for programs such as acceptance into a school or resident program.
The Art Center uses a combination of Blind and Non-blind systems for its application. Phase I, artistic merit, is blind. Phases II and III are non-blind.
Having a studio at Torpedo Factory Art Center is a unique experience. In addition to working in a community with other creatives, artists are also asked to connect with visitors about their work and creative processes. Artists should demonstrate an ability to work well among others and a desire to engage people through their art. Jurors must consider factors such as an artist’s experience, professional history, intended use of studio, and ability to effectively communicate, which are not qualifications that can be evaluated through a blind process.
What if I don’t make the jury? Can I try again in the following year?
Yes. There is no restriction on the number of times artists can apply for studio space and they’re encouraged to try again the following year.
Additionally, Artists who advance through all three phases of the jury process and earn a score of 70 of 100, but do not have high enough scores for a studio, are invited to become an Artist Pro Tem and eligible to sublease. Artists must check the box in the application indicating their interest in being considered for an Artist Pro Tem. This will not have any bearing on the juror’s scoring.
Moreover, you will receive jurors’ feedback when you apply. You will also gain experience and have a pre-built portfolio ready to apply to other opportunities.
What is an Artist Pro Tem? What if I don’t get a studio but get invited to be an Artist Pro Tem?
The term “Pro Tem” is short for “Pro Tempore”, which is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “for the time being.”
Applicants who are not accepted for a three-year lease as a Resident Artist may be selected as an Artist Pro Tem and are eligible to sublease. Applicants may also apply directly into Artist Pro Tem pool.
To become eligible for Artist Pro Tem status, applicants must complete all three jury phases of the application and score a minimum of 70 out of 100 points. Eligibility will last for a minimum one year before needing to re-jury. Artists must check the box in the application indicating their interest in being an Artist Pro Tem. Sharing your interest in being an Artist Pro Tem does not affect your score.
As an Artist Pro Tem, you may be invited to sublease with Resident Artists in their studios at various points in the year. Artist Pro Tems can also participate in Art Center public programs and exhibitions, have an artist profile listing on torpedofactory.org and use the name “Torpedo Factory Art Center” when promoting oneself. Your name will also be added to an eligibility list to lease a studio, should one become available within a year of your application.
If a studio becomes available between annual jury cycles, the Artist Pro Tem with the highest score on this application, but did not get a studio, will be the first to be offered the open studio for the remaining months of that year as a Resident Artist. The studio would be included in the jury cycle in the following year. To remain in that studio with a three-year lease as a Resident Artist, the artist would need to apply through the jury and would be treated as the incumbent artist for the studio.
Are you evicting artists?
No. As artists’ leases end, they are encouraged to apply to re-jury for a studio at the Art Center.
Torpedo Factory Art Center is a publicly subsidized space owned by the residents of Alexandria. It’s important to maintain standards for awarding studio spaces, similar to the City’s rigorous application and review process when it provides grants to non-profits and other arts organizations. For more information about the process for incumbent artists who are re-jurying, click here for more Frequently Asked Questions.FAQ for Re-Jurying Artists
After I sign a lease, can I change my studio or add a new leaseholder?
Yes, but it will affect your 3-year lease.
Studio changes, such as moving to a new location or adding an artist, must wait until the next annual jury cycle. The artist(s) would re-apply to add a new leaseholder or to change studios. Studios that re-apply risk forfeiting their existing space. An artist may vacate a group studio without breaking the studio’s lease for the remaining artists in that group.
At any point, an artist can temporarily bring in an Artist Pro Tem to sublease for up to four months in a calendar year. See Operating Rules and Procedures for more information.
What is staff’s involvement, and who is involved?
Staff is not involved in the scoring of applications; only independent expert jurors shall score the applications.
Staff developed and shall facilitate the application process and selects the jurors. The application is based on industry best practices as they relate to contemporary art spaces and artist communities. It was developed after a series of four (4) Art Center artists forums (discussions with artists) and one (1) community forum held in 2018, as well as a survey with experts in the field and a survey of other arts institutions. The Art Center is also a member of the Artist Communities Alliance, which has provided support in application development.
Annually since 2018, the Art Center staff has administered applications for studio leases at the Art Center with outside expert jurors. Over that time, the application has been refined based on experience and feedback.
Primary staff involved in the application development and administration have a wealth of experience as jurors and application administrators. They include:
- Diane Ruggiero, MA, Director of the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts
Diane brings a strong background in arts leadership roles in municipal and nonprofit arts organizations. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, public art, operations, budgeting, fundraising, grant writing, project/resource management, educational programs, marketing, and community engagement. Former roles include being Superintendent of Cultural Arts for the City of Asheville, N.C.; Executive Director of Creative Art Exchange in Cornelius, NC; and Gallery Manager and Program Coordinator of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, N.C. She has an outstanding record of promoting and managing change to grow and advance organizations. Diane’s management and selection process of the City of Alexandria Public Art program includes Site/See: New Views in Old Town, a public art series in Waterfront Park that featured work such as Mirror Mirror by SOFTlab in 2019, Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies by Olalekan Jeyifous in 2020, and Groundswell by Mark Reigelman in 2021. Diane holds a Master’s in Arts Administration and Bachelor’s of Art History/Museum Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
- Brett John Johnson, MFA, Director of Torpedo Factory Art Center
Brett joined Torpedo Factory Art Center in 2017. He implemented several innovative programs and partnerships at the Art Center and was recognized in 2018 as one of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s 40 Under 40. Brett previously served as the director of visual arts and acting as head curator at Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Va., overseeing seven buildings with more than 70 studio artists. He also held positions as gallery director at VisArts in Rockville, Md; studio programs manager at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, De.; exhibits specialist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and preparator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, College of Art and Design. Brett holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from Temple University, Tyler School of Art, and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in Painting and Printmaking.
- Leslie Mounaime, MA, Curator of Exhibitions at Torpedo Factory Art Center
Leslie focuses on supporting emerging and mid-career artists with professional exhibition opportunities in Target Gallery and other common areas throughout Torpedo Factory Art Center. She manages the existing online application and jurying process for all open calls for the exhibition spaces in her purview. She is dedicated to bringing world-class artwork that captures that public’s imagination to the D.C. region. Leslie first came to the Art Center as a gallery assistant in 2015. Prior to that, she worked in contemporary art venues such as Artisphere and Art Whino, both in Arlington, Va. She is an art historian and curator with a Master’s in Art History with a focus in contemporary art and post-colonialism from George Mason University. She also earned a Bachelor’s in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Download the 2022 Information Packet and Map