The Torpedo Factory itself is an incredible structure located in the heart of the historic Alexandria waterfront. In the early days of our Nation’s Capitol, Alexandria was selected to be a port and tobacco inspection center. This, along with construction across the Potomac River of Washington, DC, brought incredible prosperity to Alexandria. The Torpedo Factory is lucky to be sitting adjacent to “Old Town” Alexandria, a very popular spot with residents and tourists, too.
Entering the facility you are immediately transported into a world that is devoted to art. Colorful displays and sculpture greet you in the lobby. There is also a disarmed torpedo and historical plaques describing the building’s history. There are three levels of artist’s studios and their big windows invite the eyes to easily see the creations within. It creates an environment that makes you feel personally invited into each artist’s space.
Upon entering, immediately upon your right, is a medium sized studio occupied by Jamaliah Morais. From her doorway you can see that the pieces she is displaying are of a traditional Asian theme; she paints the most beautiful flowers, trees, birds, and fish in rich watercolors.
I had never met Jamaliah before, but benefited from having seen her photo on our VanGohArt.com website. Nonetheless, she greeted me warmly and sincerely. Jamaliah has been at the Torpedo Factory for many years and meeting her makes one believe she is its ambassador.
Unlike many artists that use easels, she sits at a large table with a sheet of rice paper resting in front of her. Jamaliah is a very special watercolor painter; an Oriental Brushwork artist, she is a past-president of the Sumi-e Society of America. Sumi-e, or Black Ink Painting, uses the same ink and paper as ancient Chinese writing, where emphasis is placed on the beauty of each individual stroke of the brush. Jamaliah’s watercolors dominate the studio. They are delicate and intense at the same time.
She and I talk business for a bit, that her work is now on our websites and that they are almost complete. We talk about the upcoming embellishment program, something she is excited to try for the first time. I decide to take a walk through the facility and see the other artists here, but I promise to return to her before leaving. A few hours later I’m back in her studio. My daughter has beaten me there and is talking with Jamaliah while she paints. It isn’t until she is finished that she reveals she has custom painted a beautiful peonie and written a special note in one of her art books that she is giving to my daughter.
What a wonderful end to a great day and meeting an exquisite lady. I encourage everyone reading to visit Jamaliah, and her fellow artists, at the Torpedo Factory.