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    Thursday, October 06, 2022

    Coast Guard Academy seeking large-scale artwork for new building

    New London — As the new Maritime Center of Excellence is being built along the riverfront of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's campus, the academy’s alumni association is searching for large-scale artwork for the building’s interior.

    The association is seeking submissions from muralists and artists interested in creating art for two walls inside, both of which are 40-by-16-foot spaces. One spot is above the entrance on the north side of the building. The other is on the corresponding southern wall.

    The deadline is Dec. 3 for artists or an organization such as a graphic arts company to submit their CV and some examples of their work.

    Those who are interested in submitting artwork can find details here.

    Robert McKenna, the alumni association’s vice president of development, said the plan is for the committee overseeing the artwork to interview several finalists and then make a decision. The committee might choose one artist to do both walls, or it might select two, with each doing one wall.

    Once that’s happened, McKenna said, the committee will discuss the project with the artist, "sharing our vision for the building, and then hearing from the artist what their interpretation of that is.”

    While the association is not asking for a specific event to be depicted, it does have a theme in mind. The idea is to build on the historical murals that already exist at the academy and to continue to tell the story of the Coast Guard and the academy. The Academy Class of 1962, for instance, sponsored a series of murals that depict the Coast Guard’s history from World War II to 9/11.

    While the existing murals at the Coast Guard Academy have a range of styles, from 1930s WPA realism to 2000s traditional realism, the alumni association isn't asking for the MCOE art to be of any particular style.

    In a news release, the association stated, "This does not preclude the use of more modern, contemporary styles using multi-media and graphics to depict the service today and its direction into the future."

    McKenna says the Maritime Center of Excellence walls where the artwork will go “really lend themselves to further celebrate the Coast Guard’s history as well as the potential to interpret and look toward the Coast Guard’s future. So we’re looking to have art support the vision for the building. As people come into these spaces, (they can) get a sense of our history as a service, as an academy, and with the potential to look forward to what our future may be.”

    A primary part of the vision for the center itself, McKenna said, “was to instill a liking for the sea and its lore, which is foundational in the Coast Guard Academy’s mission. We wanted to deliver something to our waterfront that created a focal point for our faculty, cadets, and staff to come to the waterfront, utilize the facilities and also serve as something that will be open to the community as well. The moniker that we put that under is it becomes the maritime front door for the academy.”

    McKenna said the architecture of the center is reminiscent of the early days of the Revenue Cutter Service, which was merged in 1915 with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to create the modern Coast Guard. The interior, for instance, evokes a wooden hull.

    “The exterior of the building is somewhat interpretive — if it’s a sail or if it’s a hull of a boat itself — but it certainly is more forward-leaning as a shape. (It) implies looking toward our future,” McKenna said.

    McKenna said the overall budget for the MCOE is $23.5 million and the association is still looking to raise another couple of million toward that total.

    The 20,000-square-foot center, which is scheduled to be completed in October 2022, will have a Science and Engineering Innovation Laboratory featuring a 3D printing workshop, wood and metal fabrication shop and a stability testing tank. Among the center’s other features are seminar space for up to 150 people, spaces for vessel maintenance, offices, and an atrium.

    The building will be the academy’s first LEED-certified project (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design), which means it is certified as a green building.

    It was designed by the architectural firm SmithGroup, and the construction contract was awarded to A/Z Corp. of North Stonington.

    k.dorsey@theday.com

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