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How Richmond artist Noah Scalin ended up in this new Old Navy ad

Posted at 2:09 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 20:35:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond artist Noah Scalin’s latest work is getting some national attention.

Scalin was tapped to star in an Old Navy ad in which the clothing company announces its plan to donate $30 million worth of clothing to families in need.

Scalin said a chance meeting with Martin Agency CEO Kristen Cavallo led to this opportunity.

“We shared a stage at St. Catherine’s School because they had asked me to come and create an original piece of art,” he said. “[Cavallo] said it stuck in her mind and she knew she would find the right project for it eventually. And so she reached out to me and said, we've got a project. I think this is the time. We'd love to work with you, which was an amazing opportunity.”

Old Navy sent Scalin thousands of pieces of clothing with which he created a portrait of a mother with her two daughters.

“The goal with this project was to create an image that represented the families that [Old Navy] was looking out for and really encapsulate this wonderful message of support,” Scalin said. “We worked together to figure out the right image that would represent something that has wonderful energy, that positivity, the beautiful smiles.”

Due to social distancing, Scalin worked alone over five days in a Richmond studio to create the art. A lone camera operator used five cameras to capture his progress.

“I usually have assistants helping me sort the clothes, there were thousands of pieces of clothing that I basically, by myself, was putting into all these piles,” he said. “Usually I do them a little faster than [five days], but because of the timing, working alone, having it be filmed, the timeline expanded a bit. It was a lot of work and it was a very interesting working method for me because I've never worked wearing a mask or gloves before.”

In addition to the clothing donation, Old Navy is also donating 50,000 non-medical reusable masks to longtime partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Scalin said the art featured in the ad contains a two-fold message.

“I want people to see everyday items in their lives differently. I want them to see the things that they may be stuck with right now as full of potential and opportunity, rather than a limitation,” he said. “I think that Old Navy feels the same way. They could have been stuck in a bad situation and instead, they thought of it as a positive thing and say, ‘hey, let's donate all this clothing. Let's do something for our communities.’”