Written by Aggie Morris, Development Coordinator
Alice Ferguson’s “Sledding” painting is the perfect painting to highlight this winter season.
Set on a cold winter day, Alice’s painting depicts several young men enjoying their time sledding down the steep hill in front of the farmhouse. The icy Potomac River is centered in the distance, with the shoreline serving as a sharp focal point for the viewer. The view across the Potomac River is hazy from the fallen snow, capturing the perfect winter essence.
Hues throughout the art piece include whites, grays, and blues, marking the cool tones of the winter season, which provide a nice contrast to the warm tones worn by the sledding boys. The sky is exceptionally cool, giving the viewer a sense of the brisk winter day.
Several young men stand in the foreground, readying themselves for the fast trip down the hill. In the front center, a man helps a child stretch out on a sled. Anchored on the bottom right, a man is preparing to push his friend down the hill. Several others are scattered among the snow, giving a perception of action and excitement to the viewer.
It can be surmised that these figures are members of Alice’s elusive “gang,” or group of friends and intellects throughout the community that Alice fondly refers to in her book, Adventures of Southern Maryland. Alice, Henry and their acquaintances were known to fearlessly fly down the great hill in front of the farmhouse, ready to tackle the escapades the beautiful farm provided.
Sledding freely down the hill, towards the shoreline is exactly the type of activity the Fergusons imagined in their search for the farm. Alice writes in Adventures in Southern Maryland, “We wanted some woods, a place to swim and a little cabin that could be a sort of permanent camp where a frying pan would hang on a nail and always be waiting for us. We wanted complete seclusion and no responsibilities, but we also wished for a place near enough to town so that at any time we could shed our city life and slip back to the life of the woods. Fate was smiling at our simple plans.” (Adventures in Southern Maryland, p. 13)
Also within the painting, the viewer sees the notable cabin sitting in the distance, an additional warm contrast in the winter scene. Fallen snow sits on the roof of the structure, set by the dark hues of the brush in the background. The cabin remains today, a reminder of the history of the property and where Alice ay once lived while the reconstruction of the farmhouse was completed.
Although the Alice Ferguson Foundation may vary from its sledding days, the hill within this painting holds significance to the Foundation today, as many children have enjoyed rolling down it to mark the beginning and end of programming. In fact, rolling down the hill has become a memorable tradition for the students that we serve!