The first in our winter series of online exhibits highlights the artistic talents that could be found among the students who attended the Orleans County Grammar School and who stayed at Alexander Lucius Twilight’s Athenian Hall dormitory—today known as the Old Stone House. If you’ve visited the museum before, you probably saw some of these works of art created by students. This exhibit delves deeper into the artistic process used to make these pieces and other artistic techniques that may have been taught at the Grammar School. It also shares the stories of the few pieces that can be attributed to specific students.
The Old Stone House Museum & Historic Village collection contains several marble dust charcoal drawings and tinsel paintings. Both techniques were common during the years the Grammar School was open and were likely taught to students, though only a few charcoal drawings in the collection are specifically attributed to students who attended the school. There may have been other art styles taught to the students, such as theorem painting, but the charcoal drawings and tinsel paintings comprise the most substantial collections at the museum.
Both of these styles create artwork that will reflect light: The marble dust glitters and the tinsel, or foil, shines. This is indicative of the 19th century lighting, candles or gas lamps that would have been used at the time these works were made. The flickering candlelight would have created a beautiful effect on the artwork.
The next time you visit the museum, be sure to ask your tour guide to demonstrate how the art glitters and shines with a flashlight! Click to the end of the exhibit for directions on how to make your own sparkling art with supplies you may have at home.
And be sure to check back in December for the next in our winter online exhibit series!