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 Louise Lentz Woodruff  (1893 - 1966)

About: Louise Lentz Woodruff
 

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: allegorical sculpture

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from Auction House Records.
"The Verock Palace"
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Louise Lentz Woodruff (1893-1966) grew up in Joliet, IL.  Her famous statue Science Advancing Mankind, aka The Steelman, was the official emblem of the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago.  That's probably her most famous work.  After the fair ended, Woodruff donated the statue and its accompanying panels to her high school, Joliet Township High School (now Joliet Central; I'd call her an alumna, but she left before graduating). 

The Steelman became the school's official mascot, and the school's football team is known as The Steelmen.  Woodruff also donated a different, smaller bronze statue by the same name, later retitled The Puddler.  Both are installed on the second floor of the original section of the school building, which was designed by architect Frank Shaver Allen.

Information about Louise Lentz Woodruff and her work is available on an alumni history page at:
http://www.jths.org/community_alumni/alumni_default/central_history.aspx

Submitted by Maria R. Traska
Independent journalist, policy analyst & blogger
Co-author of The Curious Traveler's Guide to Route 66 in Metro Chicago

Following is the text from the Alumni History page referenced above:

THE STEELMAN
They were “The Prison City Boys” before they were Steelmen! That’s how the teams were known in the early years prior to the famed statue’s arrival in 1935. The Steelman statue stands leaning forward into the future and is dear to the hearts of many alumni. It represents the school’s spirit to all. The high school’s famous sculpture was created by Louise Lentz Woodruff (1893-1966) for the Chicago World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress,” in 1933-34. At the fair, the magnificent statue was placed in front of the Hall of Science representing “Science Advancing Mankind.” The eight bas-reliefs that accompanied the Steelman to the school represent astronomy, botany, chemistry, geology, mathematics, medicine, physics and zoology.
 
Woodruff was, indeed, herself a student at JTHS entering in 1906. Her dramatic statue of the The Steelman became the official mascot in 1935 when she presented the sculpture to her alma mater.
 
Vivian Long Ziech was a junior student in 1935 when she submitted the name in an all-school contest to name the statue. Her winning essay stated that the name should be the Steelman because “Joliet is a steel town and the JT teams play like men of steel.” The golden anniversary of the Steelman was celebrated in 1985 with a limited edition calendar. Traditionally, the school celebrates the Steelman’s birthday on October 10th each year.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information relates to Louise Lentz Woodruff and the sculpture she created for the Chicago World's Fair, 1933.  The source is The 1933 Chicago World's Fair: A Century of Progress by Cheryl R. Ganz.

"Fair officials gave the responsibility of executing the fair's pivotal artistic endeavor---the representation of progress---to a local woman sculptor, Louise Lentz Woodruff.  The sculptor and her banker husband, George Woodruff, were socially prominent in Chicago's elite circles.  She served on Women's boards of artistic and civic organizations and he was treasurer of the 1933 Chicago world's fair's board of trustees.  These social connections, combined with the fair officials' efforts to integrate exceptional women into selected positions within the fair organization, resulted in Woodruff's commission.   . . .Visitors to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair could not help but be awed by Woodruff's glorious Fountain of Science, placed at the focal point of the fairgrounds, an open air rotunda of the main entrance at the Hall of Science. The fountain could be viewed from the outdoor terrace on the main level, from the rotunda on the ground level, and from the Sky Ride rocket cars gliding high overhead. A promotional flyer explained, 'The theme of this fountain---Science Advancing Mankind---is represented by the great robot-like figure typifying the exactitude, force , and onward movement of science, with its powerful hands at the backs of the figures of a man and a woman, representing mankind.' . . Perhaps the most conceptually daring of Woodruff's design ideas was her portrayal of Science as a robot. . . .often a symbol of out of control technology. . . however Woodruff's robot, with its clean, geometric lines, suggested the strength, precision, and reliability of science. This five-hundred-pound symmetrically ordered form, which she cast in white bronze, brilliantly complemented the architecture of the Hall of Science. . . .Science now constituted the autonomous force of progress, continually advancing humanity in economic, social and cultural ways, and as a result scientific authority was firmly established and scientific determinism ruled. (Ganz, 56)


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