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Business brushes up on its new home base

LIKE so many other students at the University of Mary Washington, Kelly Fisne has developed an affinity for Fredericksburg.

The senior studio art major from Centreville in Fairfax County especially enjoys the city’s downtown, where she says art, culture, history and architecture come together to create something special.

The 21-year-old Fisne will take memories of that with her when she graduates in December. But unlike most of her fellow graduates, she’ll leave a uniquely realized version of it here, in the form of a striking mural in the office of Fairfield Technologies at 520 William Street.

The large painting, in acrylic on an office wall, presents a block of Princess Anne Street. It’s compelling in its contrasts of blue skies, red and brown brick buildings, and dark streets below.

“I wanted something that had that classic Fredericksburg look,” said Fisne. She spent much of the summer turning a picture of the street into a sketch that was scaled onto the office wall.

Susan Fried is vice president of the information technology company.

A UMW connection helped bring the firm to Fredericksburg: Fried’s son is a junior at the university, and that exposed her to the city’s charm and friendly nature. When she realized it was part of the HUBZone program—which helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities—it became the spot for the firm’s second office.

Fairfield Technologies does research and more, mainly for federal agencies and the military.

There was an interest in decorating the new office in a way that said Fredericksburg.

Fisne was a fit on another level too, because the company hires UMW students. They do much of the research that’s the company’s stock in trade. Contracting an art student to put unique art on the office walls was also a way to give back to the community.

Fisne saw an email the company sent to the university’s art department, seeking a student who could spend the summer creating

a mural. She interviewed and got the position, and in June, began putting in several hours a day to make the mural a reality.

Fried said she came up with the idea of a Fredericksburg-themed mural after seeing mural art in another building downtown.

She was impressed by Fisne’s professional approach and process as the artist turned the street scene photograph into a warm and engaging piece of art.

“She blew me away!” said Fried, who said she also loves the fact that things aren’t as hectic and rushed in our area as they are in Chantilly, in western Fairfax County, where the home office is based.

“Everything here is so nice,” she said. “And people are friendlier, looking you in the eye when they speak to you. It’s that Southern hospitality.”

For her part, Fisne couldn’t have been happier to have a summer job as an artist.

Her artistic speciality has been ceramics, but childhood art classes and the instruction she’s received at UMW came together to make the mural come to life.

“It isn’t even the first time I’ve done art on a wall,” she said with a smile. “I painted the whole inside of my closet growing up.”

The mural has gone so well, Fried said, that she’s talking to Fisne about doing another, possibly after she graduates, as well as having other artists add works.

“Hopefully it will help them move forward with their careers,” said Fried.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415