Images of Power, Images of War: Schmucker Art Gallery’s New Exhibit

By Laurel Wilson ’19

Bodies in Conflict: From Gettysburg to Iraq is a brand new exhibit in Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College. Curated by Mellon Summer Scholar Laura Bergin ’17, it features eleven depictions of bodies engaged in various conflicts in U.S. history, ranging from the Civil War to the war in Iraq. In addition to curating the physical exhibit found in Schmucker Art Gallery, Bergin also created a virtual version, which can be accessed online through the Schmucker Gallery web page. Of particular interest to those interested in the Civil War are two of the oldest pieces in the collection, a lithograph depicting Pennsylvania Bucktails engaging with “Stonewall” Jackson’s men and stenograph images that depict the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Stereoscope portraying the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
This stereoscope portraying the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg is featured in Bergin’s exhibit. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Bergin’s self-designed major, Images of Conflict, was the basis for creating the exhibit, and her interdisciplinary focus shines in the exhibit’s curation. Bergin focuses on both the artistic and historical context of each image, bringing to the forefront the emotions each image is attempting to convey to the viewers. She worked closely with her faculty mentor, Shannon Egan, director of Schmucker Art Gallery, as well as Carolyn Sautter and Molly Reynolds of Musselman Library Special Collections in order to gather pieces from the college collections for the exhibit. Bergin also wrote up short essays for each piece featured in the collection that provide historical context as well as her own interpretations of each piece’s meaning, which are installed next to each piece and featured in the exhibit catalog. Continue reading “Images of Power, Images of War: Schmucker Art Gallery’s New Exhibit”

“Out of Rubble” Comes Hope for Recovery

By Avery Lentz ’14

January 23, 2014, marked the opening of the exhibit “Out of Rubble” that features the work of eighteen international artists from more than ten countries. The show examines the complex issues and contexts surrounding war — from causes and consequences to the possibility of recovery. Prior to the exhibit’s opening, three professors from three different colleges gathered in Gettysburg College’s Kline Theatre for a symposium — a lecture that discussed the paintings and photographs that grapple with the aftermath of war. All wars have shown destruction and death, but how have these themes lingered through time? How have they changed from war to war?

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Continue reading ““Out of Rubble” Comes Hope for Recovery”

Gallery Review: Visualizing War

by Katy Rettig, ’15 Gettysburg College???s Schmucker Art Gallery recently presented a student curated exhibition entitled ???Visualizing War??? that consisted of materials found within Special Collections of Musselman Library. The allotted space for the…

By Katy Rettig ’15

Gettysburg College’s Schmucker Art Gallery recently presented a student curated exhibition entitled “Visualizing War” that consisted of materials found within Special Collections of Musselman Library. The allotted space for the exhibit featured twelve pieces all pertaining to the Civil War. The curators, Natalie Sherif, Alexandra Ward, and Andrew Egbert, desired to capture the sentiments of those living in the North one-hundred and fifty years ago through the art pieces chosen. Although the display was small, it exuded remembrance and accomplished the curators’ specific purpose.

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Sherif, Ward, and Egbert did an excellent job collaborating their selected parts into a whole, meaningful exhibit. The use of a variety of carefully researched sources to examine Northern perceptions of the American Civil War and the evolution of its political, social, and militaristic visual representations was impressive. Special Collections at Musselman Library houses all of the displayed images and head archivist Carolyn Sautter aided in pulling the exhibit together. Being limited to the objects hindered the total effect that could have been posed in the exhibit through the use of additional outside images yet the pieces chosen still proved to achieve the goal. Special Collections has a vast collection of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia, therefore, more pieces could have been involved in the exhibit to enhance the presentation. Nonetheless the twelve chosen portrayed a crucial part of the American Civil War.

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The title of the exhibition, Visualizing War, seemed to be misleading. Entering the exhibit, unknowing of the purpose, I expected to see various photographs of several wars. The title was appropriate, but needed to be refined with a description following the name to specify the meaning of the exhibition. The exhibition also could have been more successful if images from both the Northern and Southern perspectives were displayed. More well-rounded pieces would have enhanced the experience for the visitor, because the Civil War was not one sided. A strict division in the exhibition I believe would have been more powerful in visualizing the whole concept of the war. The exhibition also could possibly have been better designed if images from other-American wars were included.

The pieces themselves portrayed varying perspectives on the Civil War. I discovered that I was able to break down the twelve images into three categories: colorization of images, propaganda, and aftermath. Each category exhibited a different perspective of the war. The colors used in three of the pictures on display developed their own message regardless of the exact drawing. The use of color seems to be fairly important in the romanticized view of war and death. The 1863 map also used vibrant colors and connected to the notion of the North being the correct side. Five of the pieces entered into the exhibition were political propaganda pieces of the Civil War era that showed the negative view of the Confederacy. The last four pieces depicted heroic battle scenes and the brutal difficulties that were associated with the War Between the States. All of the images combined created a powerful visual exhibit that deserves notable recognition for a successful commemoration of the sesquicentennial.

Images from Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.