Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
I recently joined the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia. To paraphrase the mission statement: The Workhouse Arts Center will provide “a unique arts center that provides visual and performing arts, arts education, and entertainment for the community at large”.
Why “Workhouse”? The facility was built in the early part of the 20th century as a prison/workhouse for Washington DC’s non-violent criminals. Included in the prison population were “criminal” members of the National Women’s Party, incarcerated for picketing the White House campaigning for women’s voting rights.
So the facility continues its life as a workhouse… this time as an art-Workhouse. The Workhouse hosts scads of special events, programs, classes, lectures, etc., throughout the year together with our monthly Open House, Second Saturday, with many Gallery/Studios hosting individual programs.
On a more day-to-day level, the Workhouse currently houses approximately 60 visual artists, working in a variety of mediums, many creating their work in on-site studios located in the former prison blocks, all re-designed and remodeled to accommodate each specific medium. These studios are open for you to visit, to watch the artists creating, and to purchase original artwork directly from the creating artist! Each building also hosts a retail gallery of its own where you may purchase original Works Of Art by the Artists on site. We have artists creating in glass, ceramics, painting, batik, photography, mixed media, fiber, performing arts, and movement (Pilates and Yoga) to name a few.
The group I’m a member of are the Associate Artists. We don’t have studio spaces on-site — we produce our art elsewhere — but we have a gallery on-site in Building 9 where we host ever-changing, month-long exhibits of our members’ work. In addition, we also host extended exhibitions of a dozen or so pieces, all created by one of our members as a Featured Artist. With these more extensive exhibits, you can really get a feel for the Artist’s personal perspective.
One of the things we do in our gallery on Second Saturdays is hold the People’s Choice Awards. We invite all of our guests to vote for their favorite piece of Art in our gallery. In January (2016) Nancy Hannans won first place, and in a tie for second place with Kathy Strauss was Yours Truly for my image Nature’s Fireworks.
Our members create mostly in 2-D (painting, photography, batik, etc.), but we also show some 3-D fiber arts, notecards, and jewelry, and we also offer very affordable matted print reproductions of many of our art pieces.
If you live in Northern Virginia, or are planning to visit, make a point to come visit the Workhouse. Visit the Workhouse Prison Museum on-site for a fascinating — and sobering — glimpse into a bit of our local history and backstory. Then, visit the Associate Artists’ gallery in Building 9, along with all the other working galleries in the other buildings, and come away with a special bit of original art you were able to purchase directly from the Artist/Creator.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What experience from your recent visit to the Workhouse did you find particularly illuminating, interesting, inspiring, poignant, sobering, informative, fascinating, thought-provoking, inspirational, intriguing, motivating…
Share and we will all benefit from your insight.
I am a Virginia-based photographer and gather my images while hiking in parks and natural areas here at home and in the locations I travel to. I also love to visit arboretums and botanic gardens to find unusual and exotic subjects.