Glass blowing is one of the oldest and most unique art forms dating back to the 1st century BC, and today it attracting people of all ages at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.
Glass-blowing experiences were offered during the summer through the work of Solange Ledwith who owns and operates Swampgirl Glass Blowing. The individual glass sessions have become so popular that her work will be featured in the Moss Point Fine Art Gallery during December 2019 and January 2020.
A community art gallery opening will be held at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 4 to 6 p.m. to formally introduce Ledwith to the community and display some of her artwork. The theme is “Work and Play,” and many of her pieces will be available for purchase.
While in college at California State University, Ledwith was introduced to this art form when she enrolled in the glass program in the art department. She received her bachelor’s degree in art from California State University of Chico and her master’s degree in art from California State University of Fullerton.
“I enjoy making the pieces from my ‘Balance’ series that I began developing in grad school,” Ledwith said. “I have been working to perfect and evolve them for more than 10 years now. They are visually simplistic but technically very complex.”
She said she continues to learn about possibilities and boundaries with the material through these items. After receiving her formal education, she said she was drawn to share this art form with others.
“I love teaching, and I love sharing this art form,” Ledwith said. “I feel a sense of responsibility to share this knowledge because it is not mine to keep. It is in-part my duty to pass it on.”
Enabling others to understand the process and materials, she said, gives people a better understanding of how things work and they understand the world a little better.
Ledwith has offered experiences in making tumblers and pumpkins at the nature center and will be making Christmas ornaments in December. Plans are underway to schedule classes for tumblers and Easter eggs during the springtime.
While her business has become very successful, she said her future goes beyond simple glass-blowing sessions.
“I plan to continue this art for the rest of my life,” Ledwith said. I look forward to growing my business and sharing my world of glass and art, but I also fantasize about bridging the gap between the art-making portion and the science behind the art.”
She said it is not just a fun process to learn, but it is also educational.
“I think that science and art are both strengthened by each other,” Ledwith added.
Since classes began in Moss Point, Center Manager Susan Stachowski says the new attraction has been an avenue for introducing the Center to new friends.
“I can’t believe how popular these classes have become. The time-slots fill usually within 48 hours of posting class dates,” Stachowski said. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Solange while offering the community unique opportunities.”
The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is offering an admission-free weekend December 6 and 7 for guests to observe Ledwith in action as she works with individuals to make ornaments.