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MARCEL (Marcella Anderson) Torpedo Factory Artist

Marcella Anderson and/or Marcy Anderson (1946 - 2015) was better known as "MARCEL", a popular serigraph/silkscreen artist, at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in historic Old Town Alexandria, VA. She maintained a gallery and work space at the Torpedo Factory from 1976 to 2015. At the top of the stairs on the 3rd floor was this large light filled studio with a charming blonde woman surrounded by her silkscreens.

In the early 80s, her work consisted mostly of water reptiles, fish, birds and environmental scenes. She kept with nature themes during most of her time at the studio. Her obituary stated: "Marcel was known for her bold, yet sensitive, use of color and design. Her images in all media reflected her love of nature. Her glowing color, both intense and delicate, was achieved through the use of transparent layers of color."

Marcel was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and studied at the Cornish School of Allied Arts. Before arriving in the DC area, she had traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa, which influenced her work as in the case below: "Mauve Mykonos Morning." This image must have been captured in her sketch book during one of her trips to Greek Islands on the Aegean Sea.

"Mauve Mykonos Morning"
Serigraph Edition: 10/136
Signed:  Marcel 

I want to clarify some points about Marcella Anderson. She used the name "Marcel" on her silkscreens and her signature was in a very distinctive style. Once you saw her signature you would recognize it again and again. She had a website that is no longer in service, yet the Art Center does still keep her in their stable of artists. No one is now promoting her work or actively handling her art estate. All of these elements put art researchers at a conundrum, as there are many famous artists that go by "Marcel" and there are numerous Marcella Andersons. To help clarify this problem when she was alive, each of her serigraphs came with an attached biographical background and exhibit/artist statement. Over the years these statements have been removed or lost from the backs of her artworks. To help art researchers, here is a portion of the biographical and artist statement:

Marcel began working with silkscreen on a full-time basis in 1971. She was drawn to this medium by the range of color intensity she perceived, as well as by a luminosity, which she had been seeking in her painting. Her use of color now, in her silkscreen works, evoke both an intensity and delicacy, a uniqueness achieved through extensive shading, and a well developed very personal sense of color, these compliment her strong, multifaceted idea range which achieve a surreal quality. "My ideas flow and merge together, much as rivers do. One into the other. Often they will emerge as symbolic representations touching the visual, sensual, spiritual, and strongly poetic sides of our lives. With my work, I try to stimulate people, to encourage them to use their imaginations, to give shape to their fantasy, and to create a genuine respect for all creatures who share our habitat".

She draws upon her background in painting in her approach to silkscreen, the one feeding the other. The result, the flat, hard edges, typical of silkscreen, seem melted away through shading of color and texture. "I have always been very concerned with space, as that which defines the subject being equally as important as that which is the space defines. It compliments my own feeling about life, and the need for harmony, I see between people and their environment. I see natural cycles as complete, filled with variation and complexity, which work to transform both the internal and external, natural phenomenon, into a kind of serenity that is visual, which we can perceive."

Marcel's signed editions are hand-pulled, and limited to less than two hundred for small images, and less than one hundred and fifty for larger images. While ideas for her silkscreens are partially developed through the use of water color sketches and drawings, the final phase of printing becomes the crucial work of the success of an image, where colors are applied, one at a time.

Image may contain: 2 people

Photograph of Marcel. Thanks goes out to the Torpedo Factory Art Center Facebook page for the photograph. Facebook announced her passing on July 31, 2015.


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