Toilet of Venus- George Woodall

Text by Kenya Hadnot, Gallery Attendant for the Forsyth Galleries


Born into a family of talent in the mid 1800s, George Woodall naturally drifted toward figurative work, life drawing and soon became a skilled craftsman. Between 1881 and 1882, George and his brother experimented with the production of carving cameo glass, soon specializing in this work. George was determined to refine the process used by John Northwood, the first major carver of cameo glass. George was quickly recognized as the greatest cameo carver of his time, as he surpassed the amount of work ever completed by Northwood. As a perfectionist, he was unhappy with the work of other engravers on his team. So he increasingly worked alone, sketching his own designs and carving his own vases; however, he occasionally collaborated with his brother to create highly valued work. He received much attraction for his solo works, not only because of the elaborate, decorative quality, but also because George’s love for photography marketed the glass very well and added to their commercial success.

The cameo technique refers to the art of carving or engraving a figure on a surface made up of at least two layers of different colors. The design is drawn onto the outer, opaque white layer of the vessel while the area that is meant to remain white is coated with an acid resistant agent. A great deal of skill, experience, and patience allowed engravers to endure the slow working process.

The colored plate I chose, Toilet of Venus by George Woodall, is white on blue on plum plaque (three layers) and is 17 1/4 in. George completed this piece in 1898 only after the artist discovered a flaw in the glass, and the whole of the work (which occupied him for many months) had to be recommenced on a fresh piece of glass. This beautiful piece stood out to me because of the hues and shadows that allowed the girls to come forth as angelic. The inner plate stars his daughters, two of whom are interacting with one another, and the third sitting on the floor in her own world. The depth of the photo along with the dark cobalt blue background give the girls an up-close, magnified view, though detail can be seen throughout the picture. The girls themselves look as if they could be statues as they stand amidst fountains, doves, fruit, bodies of water, plants, and other statues. Superb detail encompasses not only the inner plate, but the border as well. The outer plate consists of mythical creatures patterned in such a way that similar heads face the opposite direction, unless of course it is the lion head. These creatures are surrounded by floral designs and vines.

The tiniest flower was shaded to perfection and I am amazed by the amount of hard work George and similar engravers must have put in during their commercial peak. Every piece I’ve seen is amazing, whether it be simply floral designs on a vase or detailed mythological figures referencing Ancient Greece and Rome. Several of George Woodall’s cameo glass pieces are in possession of the Forsyth Galleries at Texas A&M University, including “Love’s Awakening” featuring Cupid, “Aurora” completed by George and his brother, and numerous vases such as “Wild Waves”, “Diana”, and “Sea Gulls”.


An Exciting Weekend in Aggieland

Text by Taylor Wilson, Gallery Attendant for the Forsyth Galleries

Suddenly, hundreds of them appear out of thin air. They’ve taken over every inch of our territory. They’re at Kyle Field, the MSC, walking along Military Walk, even on Northgate. Who are they, you ask? PARENTS!

That’s right; this past weekend was Parent’s Weekend, a time-honored tradition that welcomes the parents of our hard-working Aggies to College Station. There were plenty of events for them to attend including the Maroon and White game, an Aggie Mom’s Boutique, Midnight Yell, College Open Houses, and many others that helped them get a taste of what the Aggie life is really about.

Here at the Forsyth Galleries it was the closing weekend of our MSC OPAS exhibit. Some of the parents that stopped by were former members of OPAS and were excited to walk through their history. Traffic in the gallery was at an all-time high as students enjoyed showing their parents the artistic side of A&M.  With over 200 visitors on Saturday and Sunday, the gallery was constantly filled with excited parents, enlightened siblings, and proud students.

Even though we have now said our goodbyes to both our parents and the OPAS exhibit, there are even more exciting things to come in the near future including the end of a semester and the beginning of our new exhibit: Mount Washington Glass.  See you soon!

What A Workshop!

Text by Kenya Hadnot, Gallery Attendant for the Forsyth Galleries

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The Forsyth Galleries collaborated with an on-campus student organization, Artistic Expressions, in order to host a mixed media art workshop. Glenda Hoon Russell instructed a number of students with diverse artistic backgrounds, showing examples of her work and guiding artists to perfection as they learned her medium of expertise. This non-traditional collage class was like no other; individuals were free to do whatever they pleased with the supplies available. Glenda encouraged artists to experiment and nurtured creativity as she constantly offered new ideas and compliments for unfinished pieces, and encouraged starting over if a student grew tired of the piece on which they were currently working.

Participants were allowed to use art supplies such as watercolor, ink, pastels, charcoal, glue, exacto knives, crayons and much more. Glenda explained that the purpose of the non-traditional collage was to enhance the element of discovery. While some images or text were superbly obvious, others were contrasting or even camouflaged. Artists tore apart books, newspapers, and magazines in order to form the foundation of their art pieces on a cardboard square. With access to a variety of mediums, each piece produced was one of a kind. While some participants worked patiently with blow dryers to melt crayons for cool coloring effects, others used paints and color pencils to enhance their paper findings. Working with cardboard squares and blow dryers in one setting was rather eclectic, but it got better.

Glenda carefully explained several techniques, making sure that each participant understood the vast amount of directions they could go. Instructions included tearing away from their piece with an exacto knife, using paper towels and glue to ball up for texture, painting with fingers and napkins instead of the traditional paint brush, and using tape to hide parts of the piece so other parts could stand out more. In a two hour time frame, some participants worked in detail on one piece, while others were able to produce two or three. For such a learning experience, Glenda Russell’s mixed media art workshop was fun, and simple to duplicate. Inspired by her teachings, Artistic Expressions will allow their members to recreate this experience.