Noah Scalin Joins The (Old) Navy

by | Jun 12, 2020 | ART

Old Navy was donating $30 million worth of clothing to families affected by COVID-19, and they wanted to let the world know. Veteran Richmond artist Noah Scalin was glad to help.

Last month, Old Navy announced something big. They’re throwing their hat in the ring against COVID-19 by delivering $30 million worth of clothes to families in need. And they’ve enlisted Richmond artist Noah Scalin to help them spread the word.

Through distribution organizations like Good360 and Baby2baby, Old Navy is working to help thousands of families affected by the coronavirus pandemic remain clothed. This could prove an invaluable resource for parents unable to afford new clothing for themselves and their children due to the massive increase in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

To promote their new donation, Old Navy enlisted local Richmond artist Noah Scalin to produce an art piece constructed entirely out of Old Navy clothing. While the piece, a massive portrait of an American family, will not be displayed anywhere in particular, Old Navy and Scalin have produced a video showing off both the portrait and the creative process behind it. You might even have seen it on YouTube.

This isn’t the only thing Old Navy is doing to help with COVID-19 relief, however. On top of donating clothing, the company is also donating 50,000 face masks to the Boys and Girls Club of America. They’ve also, along with their parent company, Gap Inc., used their supply chains to help with relief.

Scalin has been a prominent artist in Richmond for over a decade now, and he is especially known for his mosaic portraits constructed from unusual materials. Scalin says he’s been working with odd materials since 2007, and specifically clothing since 2015, but that this piece was particularly challenging. 

“It’s a great challenge, working under these unusual circumstances,” he said. “In terms of scale, this is definitely the most ambitious piece I’ve done in this style.”

Noah Scalin. Photo by Bill Wadman, via Facebook

The portrait is massive, measuring 40 feet by 20 feet. It’s also anamorphic, meaning it only looks like a portrait when observed from a certain angle. In the end, this meant that Scalin’s process could be painstakingly long and tedious, moving back and forth between choosing the best piece of clothing for his next “brushstroke” and checking the reference photo to make sure he’s capturing everything perfectly. The effort was exacerbated by the fact that Scalin had to work alone for this massive piece in order to maintain social distancing. According to him, the only other person in the room was a camera operator, making sure filming went well.

As for Scalin, he was glad to have the opportunity to be part of the Old Navy initiative.

“I appreciate that this is about them doing something positive in a difficult time,” said Scalin. “And I love the fact that they were interested in working with a local artist… supporting our community in that way is awesome.”

Top Image courtesy Old Navy

Jonah Schuhart

Jonah Schuhart

Jonah Schuhart is a Senior Broadcast Journalism Student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Jonah hopes to use his work to spread goodwill and a positive message. Despite this healthy outlook, he survives solely on a destructive diet of Japanese action games and Cheetos.

more in art

Need Space to Paint? 17th Street Studios is a Painter’s Paradise

Down in Shockoe Bottom, a small project is merging the worlds of art and community in a way that speaks to the city's evolving needs. Sarah Salo, a Richmond-born artist now navigating the bustling fashion industry of New York, finds herself at the intersection of this...

Chandler Has Gone Viral, Again

When your friend from far away Portugal hits you up with a message like, "Have you seen this? Do you know this guy? He's from Richmond and he is all over TikTok!" you can't help but check it out. And when you discover it's Chandler Matkins, it's almost a given—of...

What Makes The Richmond Animation Festival a Can’t-Miss Event?

Dive into the vibrant world of animation at the 2nd Annual Richmond Animation Festival, set to captivate audiences at The Byrd Theater on April 28th. This year's festival promises an eclectic mix of short films, showcasing talents from around the globe, including a...

Behind the Rebirth: Inside Story of Harry’s at the Hofheimer

I was strolling down Broad Street on what was an unseasonably beautiful day in March, and as I rounded the corner at Arthur Ashe Boulevard I was greeted by the familiar yet striking architecture of The Hofheimer Building. I was making my way there that day to meet...