Joan Wilson in the MFAH, 1932

One of the things that struck me about Joan Wilson’s lovely scrapbook was that as thoroughly as it documented her life at Rice it contained almost no photographs. I was surprised, then, when I discovered that she was an avid photographer and that some of the images she took as an undergraduate were selected for the MFAH’s 1932 exhibit of work by Texas photographers. This page tells the whole story. I assume that the photo below is the one titled “Arcade”:

Then I found this charming little drawing a few pages later and it brought a smile to my face. The style is instantly recognizable so even without the tiny “KT” at bottom right I would have known this was produced by Joan’s lifelong friend Katherine Tsanoff:

And happily Joan did indeed go on to become a professional photographer. It took just a bit of digging to turn up this 1955 ad for Joan Wilson Sherred’s photography studio in La Marque:

Bonus: In the comments to last week’s post about Joan’s scrapbook, reader James Medford pointed out that the Wilsons’ house at 5510 Chenevert is still standing. I went and looked and it sure is. It looks really good too and most of that block has survived intact. It was refreshing to see.

Extra Bonus: Note that Joan underlined the names of two other exhibitors. One of them is Vera Prasilova, wife of early Rice chemist Arthur Scott. She is the subject of this short film by Paul Hester ’71 and my Woodson colleague Dara Flinn. We have an extensive collection of her work and it is all beautiful. It’s worth your time.

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2 Responses to Joan Wilson in the MFAH, 1932

  1. Ann Greene says:

    Wonderful film and photos, Thank you, Melissa,

  2. almadenmike says:

    Two of the underlined photographers — Fay Guynn and Vera Prasilova — are mentioned in the 2014 book “The Hawkins Ranch in Texas: From Plantation Times to the Present” written by Margaret Lewis Furse, who was a religious studies lecturer at Rice in 1970-73.

    Several pages in this book describe in detail how Vera took her photos. Some excerpts:

    Page 132: Fay Guynn, a family friend from Houston, had arranged for Vera Prasilove’s (sic) visit, thinking that the Ranch House would be a good subject for a photographic study. … (Vera) signed the picture the way a painter signs a canvas and dated it 1935.

    Page 135: That photograph made all the Hawkins siblings sharply recognize … (that)…something had to be done about the house.

    Page 134: The photograph Vera Prasilove made that day in 1935 is still lovely, and when one stands today on the spot from which the picture was taken, one sees the same house, unchanged in design. In the house portrait taken that day, there were no people, just the house itself. But Sister and Janie were each asked to pose for a portrait and did the next day.

    Sister’s is the farthest removed from her interests, habits, and tastes, which ran to Dresden figurines. Mrs. Prasilove posed her standing on the open prairie. Her gloved right hand holds a horse by the rein near its bit. She is dressed in boots and riding breeches, which were her own. She wore a canvas cloth riding coat she had borrowed from Janie. … In her left hand she holds at her knee a soft white cloth hat like a cricket player’s. It was Esker’s (her husband’s). When the photographer had looked through her lens and declared that the composition would be even better if her subject held a hat in her hand, Esker characteristically provided the remedy: “Take mine,” he said.


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