Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Inspiration Through Art | A Tribute to Robert Rosselle

Inspiration Through Art | A Tribute to Robert Rosselle - A Simpler Grace

On March 9, 2015, I sat down and made a list. It was a list of things I wanted to do in the next one thousand and one days. A hundred and one things, to be exact. Number fifteen on this list is what I'm writing about today.

If you aren't from the nation's capital, you've probably never heard of the Torpedo Factory, so I'll give you a quick history. In 1918, the U.S. Navy constructed a building on the banks of the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia to serve as a torpedo factory. There, the Navy manufactured Mark III and Mark XIV torpedoes for aircraft and submarines, respectively. 

After five years of production, the factory was turned into munitions storage and after World War II, it was converted to government storage then later bought by the City of Alexandria. In 1974, the building was renovated and art studio spaces were created for The Art League. It now serves as an art museum and studio, housing eighty-two artists, seven galleries, two workshops and even an art school. 


One of the longest-running artists to hold a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center was my favorite sculptor, Robert Rosselle. Seven days a week, until 4 p.m., he could be found in studio 311. Sadly, Rosselle passed away a few years ago, so I never got the chance to share his work with anyone, but I have been so inspired by his pieces, that I refuse to let his legacy die.

I stumbled on studio 311 the second time I visited the Torpedo Factory. At first glance, the art looked like a bunch of random sculptures, mostly vase- or urn-like and was beautiful, but could easily be skipped over. Only when I went inside and inspected each piece up close, did I realize what I'd missed. Robert Rosselle created what he called "Reticulated Form of Diorama". Each of his sculptures, had a hole (or multiple holes) in it, with lighting strategically placed so you could see a scene playing out inside.

My favorite piece was this beautiful ceramic sculpture that looked like a piece of stone and when you looked inside it, you saw a man and a boy standing on a hill looking up at the most amazing star-filled sky with a shooting star sailing by. It was one of those pieces that gives you goosebumps and leaves you in wonder. 


Rosselle's work did two things for me. It inspired me to continue pursuing my creative interests. Years before, I had been an art major in college and dropped out because I wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Even though I did, in fact, end up following my love for writing professionally, seeing these pieces of studio 311 gave me the courage to pick up my materials and start creating again.

The second thing his sculpture taught me was to think outside the box. There is something to be said for creating a beautiful piece of art, but it is magical when you can go one step further and make people gasp in wonder because you've done something they weren't expecting. Never before had I seen anything inside of a ceramic vase, but if I had judged these pieces by the outside, I would have missed out on one of the best artists of this time.

I was heartbroken to learn of Rosselle's death and to know that he will no longer be in studio 311 next time I visit the Torpedo Factory, but I am honored to be able to share a little bit of his work with you. I hope you are as inspired as I have been.

Have you been inspired by an artist or a piece of art? I'd love to hear details in the comments below!

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  1. I absolutely love this post. His artwork is definitely inspiring. I too feel like I too want to pursue my creative interests. I feel like there is so much more that I want to be doing with my life when it comes to my interests. Art, photography, cooking, books. Your post has inspired me. Thank you for sharing Robert's work.

  2. I love his artwork. Art has always been inspiring to me. I love to show my creative side when I have the chance. I feel like it hasn't been so noticeable lately. This will kick me into more projects. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow, his sculptures are beautiful! I am always so inspired by art.

  4. His work is inspiring. Thanks for coming by to check it out, Kim!

  5. I'm glad you enjoy it, Trish! Thanks for reading. :)