Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ebenezer Drawings

I started my Ebenezer project with this series of drawings. I was inspired after trolling through the Library of Congress Civil War photo collection. ( Their I discovered a number of period photographs from the swamp areas of the deep south. I was struck with the way the vegetation looked & how it photographed. Quite mysterious & menacing. For my first compositions I wanted to show the pontoon bridge in the river as seen looking through the trees. The bridge does not make it all the way across.
Later after reading about what an Ebenezer was I added the symbolism of the rock. I use Trader Joe's paper shopping bags. I am trying out different views & compositions. The materials are compressed charcoal, white conte crayon, sumi ink, & white house paint. I have to work quickly on this paper once it's wet. It won't take much abuse. The time limit is also good for me so that I try to get ideas out fast & move on. I jump to the next page when I get a new idea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ebenezer Stone

“Ebenezer” is a name of Hebrew origin meaning "Stone of the help" (derived from the phrase "Eben ha-Ezer") For my Tragedy of Ebenezer Creek work I constructed a Ebenezer stone out of plaster. I created a wooden mold & cast the plaster into a long rock shape. The color treatment is graphite.
Back of Ebenezer Stone
Broken Ebenezer Stone on Pontoon Bridge
Broken Promise, Broken Ebenezer

The Tragedy of Ebenezer Creek

This is another photo shoot project. This scene has evolved out of my research into an event that occurred during Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War.

I am including the Wikipedia version of the events.

“Ebenezer Creek is a location in Georgia where hundreds of freed black slaves were abandoned during General Sherman's march during the American Civil War. After the army had crossed over on pontoons the commander in charge of the crossing, BG Jefferson C. Davis, cut them loose, leaving the escaped slaves on the other side. Many drowned while trying to cross over.

The Tragedy of Ebenezer Creek happened on December 9, 1864. General Sherman was already towards the end of his March to the Sea, and was only twenty miles from his final destination of Savannah, Georgia. Slaves followed Sherman's army throughout his march from Atlanta despite the fact that Sherman's army could not support a large following. One of the reasons for this following was the exchange of food for slaves for their servitude with the Union Army, which included cooking and manual labor. Due to the increasing scarcity of food, Sherman urged the freed men to stay behind. Many freed slaves turned around. However, on this particular day, an estimated 670 freed men, women and children were on the march with Sherman's army and were stranded.

Jefferson C. Davis of XIV Corps made the decision to abandon the following. Davis' units crossed the pontoons first, leaving the freed men on the other side. Then the order was given, and Davis' last regiment, the 58th Indiana, blocked the former slaves from getting on the pontoon. Davis tricked the former slaves into thinking that their being held back at first was for their own safety, making them think that they would be safe in the back in case a fight should happen in front. It was under these pretenses that the line was cut and the pontoon made it to the other side of the icy water about thirty to forty yards away.

It was at this moment that cavalrymen of Major General Joseph Wheeler of the Confederates came to the side of the creek where the slaves had been abandoned. Many dived into the river trying to swim across and drowned, while others were shot in a brief attack. Davis' men left as soon as Major General Wheeler's men were in sight. After the initial attack, Confederate cavalrymen left to find another way around the river; they later came back to capture those who were left behind.

Many blamed the incident on Davis, but General Sherman stated in his memoirs that Davis was just being a soldier. But at the same time General Sherman and other soldiers admitted Davis' hostility and his apparent racism to the former slaves. The Tragedy at Ebenezer Creek would remain synonymous with Davis' actions.”

General Washington's Retreat from Brooklyn New York 1776

I have been playing around with constructing situations that relate to events from history. Using a theater space & lighting I am able to build large-scale set-ups for photo shoots. These photo shoots enable me to better visualize & compose various scenes. My idea is to use the photographs as a starting point for larger paintings. The painting will use the photograph as a ground over witch I will paint.
The first set-up deals with General Washington’ Continental army’s retreat across the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. For this basic set up I constructed 13 paper boats that were based on the type of boats that were used &active in New York harbor in 1776. I next arranged them on a background & photographed them. The next phase of this project will involve recreating this set up close to the actual place were the events took place in 1776.

Here are the first sketches for this project. The medium that I'm working with lend them self well to idea of small boats disappearing into fog at night.