The Gallery
Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 526-5335
 
 

WILLIAM EARLE WILLIAMS
The Vicksburg Campaign: Photographs of The Civil War   Battlefields
January 25 — February 22, 2002
Daily: 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.
Artist’s Reception:
Friday, February 8, 5—7 p.m.
Gallery talk at 5:30 p.m.
co-Sponsored by the Center for Visual Culture.

     
 

In the book Reflections in Black (Norton 2000), Deborah Willis writes: "William Earle Williams considers both history and the contemporary landscape in photographing Civil War battlegrounds in the South and North, recording both historically recognizable as well as forgotten sites."

The Vicksburg campaign in Mississippi was one of the turning points of the Civil War in 1863; the other turning point was the battle at Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania. Few people know what either of these places looked like then or now. However, many people have heard of both of these places. Today Vicksburg and Gettysburg are sites of National Military Parks. Both of these military actions were celebrated as victories on July 4, 1863 and are therefore linked in historical and popular memory as the two most important military actions that changed the tide of the war in the Union’s favor. Williams has done photographic series at both sites.

Unlike Gettysburg, African American soldiers and laborers played an important role in sealing victory in the Vicksburg Campaign. This combined water and land operation, waged over many months and hundreds of square miles, extended over some of the most varied and beautiful terrain in the lower South. Little known battlefields from Mount Plantation to well known ones like Port Hudson in Louisiana and cemeteries associated with the final military action in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas have been photographed by Williams in 1997-99 in black and white format. His photographs serve as both interpretations and monuments, and capture certain concerns about Civil War history and the social history of American life as determined on these battlefields, with ramifications for our present and future.

William E. Williams is Professor of Fine Arts and Curator of Photography at Haverford College. He has been affiliated with Haverford since 1978 after receiving his M.F.A. in photography that year from Yale University School of Art. His photographs have been exhibited and collected by Smith College, Cleveland Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Baltimore Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has organized over sixty exhibitions, including work by Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, and Harold Edgerton, and is currently a member and treasurer of the National Board of the Society for Photographic Education.