War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials
A book of photography, poetry, and comment on the U.S. Civil War and our contemporary moment
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, April 3 2019 3:59 AM UTC +00:00.
Responding to the demand for framed chlorophyll prints of Walt Whitman, we're putting up a new, one-of-a-kind premium today: Robert Schultz's leaf print of the famous frontispiece image to the 1855 first-edition Leaves of Grass. The etching was made in 1854 by Samuel Hollyer, based on a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison. The image is in a hosta leaf, cast in resin, and framed at 10 x 7.5 inches. It is, of course, a unique object, as each leaf is unique, and it is signed on the frame back by the artist. The gallery price for this leaf print would be $1,800, and it comes with your signed copy of War Memoranda at the special campaign support level of $750.
War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials by Binh Danh and Robert Schultz is an art book that memorializes the U.S. Civil War in a new way, employing photography, poetry, essays, and the fruitful example of Walt Whitman. In 2019 we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the poet’s birth, and War Memoranda marks the occasion by focusing on Whitman’s response to the Civil War and the central metaphor of his Leaves of Grass—the leaves of common grass as symbol of democracy and sign of rebirth.
Whitman’s prose journal, Memoranda During the War, recounts his wartime experience ministering to sick and wounded soldiers in Washington, DC’s military hospitals. And his post-war poem, “Reconciliation,” provides an inspiring example in our own moment of social and political divisions: "[M]y enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead, / I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin—I draw near, / Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin."
Attempting an answering tenderness, Robert Schultz has made portraits of soldiers and their loved ones in the flesh of leaves, using the “chlorophyll print” process Binh Danh taught him. The portraits are drawn from the magnificent Liljenquist Family Collection in the Library of Congress, and they ask us to reckon the costs of war one face at a time.
This book is the latest result of a ten-year collaboration between photographer Danh and poet-artist Schultz. Their first book, Ancestral Altars, features Danh’s chlorophyll prints and the poems Schultz wrote in response to them. Their 2015 War Memoranda exhibition, mounted by the Taubman Museum of Art, continues to travel to museums around the country. Both projects helped to shape the current book.
War Memoranda contains 51 photographs, five original poems and two contemporary essays, a generous selection of Whitman’s wartime poetry and prose, and guest commentary by four distinguished poets and scholars. Danh’s photographs of Civil War memorial sites, using the nineteenth-century cyanotype process, evoke at once the past and present, posing the question, “How far have we come since those terrible days?”
One flash point for conflict in our own time has been the nation’s Civil War memorials. For Whitman “the land entire” was the most fitting memorial to the war dead, “South or North, ours all”: ". . . [T]he land entire [is] saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes’ exhalation in Nature’s chemistry distill’d, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw . . .."
This is scientifically true, metaphorically arresting, and spiritually challenging. In response, the present book’s “memoranda” of war are chiefly portraits. With Whitman, Danh and Schultz search out the secret history of war in the faces of its combatants and those who mourned their loss, Northern, Southern, white, and black. Every war is a tragedy founded in years of failure, and War Memoranda focuses on the dimensions of its personal cost, portrait by portrait. Pursuing intimate history, War Memoranda offers a way to memorialize the Civil War without reliving in our own time it's terrible divisions. Whitman’s generous compassion may seem superhuman, but it provides an example, beyond race or party, of hope overcoming fear when we look one another in the face.
We would be grateful for your support. Please share this project!
As Featured on Lenscratch
Binh Danh and his daguerreotypes - a great opportunity
Did you know that the beautiful daguerreotypes that Binh Danh is offering as War Memoranda premiums are sold for three times the support level listed here? Do you know that several of the dags from his "Crosses" series are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC? Did you know that each of these daguerreotypes is a unique, one-of-a-kind artwork because of the nature of this historic photographic technology? In this video Binh describes this fascinating process and the meaning of his "Crosses" daguerreotype series.
One Week Only: Special Premium [It's back--again!]
Our previous two special premium offers have been taken, so we're offering this one last Whitman portrait in a mouse ear hosta leaf. For a limited time we are offering as special premium a one-of-a-kind chlorophyll print of Walt Whitman (1870-72) cast in resin and framed. (The previous two portraits selected by backers were the 1855 frontispiece image and the 1854 daguerreotype portrait sometimes called the "Christ likeness.) The 1870 portrait shown here may have been taken in Brooklyn, but we don't know who the photographer was. It was taken sometime between 1870 and 1872. The portrait is cast in resin and mounted in a 5 x 5-inch metal frame. The chlorophyll print and book, together, are a $700 value. Receive both for a $490 donation. This premium is available for one week only.
Barbara Bair ("My Brother's Keeper") is Specialist in Literature in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress and oversees the three main Whitman collections. She has curated many exhibitions at the library, including Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass, which in 2005 celebrated the 150th anniversary of the 1855 first edition. David Lehman ("The Visionary Whitman") is a poet, critic, and the originator and general editor of Scribners' Best American Poetry annual. Among his books are Poems in the Manner Of (2017) and Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World (2015). For many years he directed the poetry program at The New School in New York City. His essay, first published in The American Poetry Review (January/February 2008) has been revised and expanded for the current volume. Stanley Plumly ("Whitman's Organicism")is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Against Sunset, and two books on Keats and his circle. The recipient of many national poetry prizes, he teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park. Molly Rogers ("Stricken") writes about the history and theory of photography. She is the author of Delia’s Tears: Race, Science and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America and co-editor of To Make Their Way in the World: The Peabody Museum's Daguerreotypes. She lives in New York City.
Photographs: 51 photographs (48 color, 3 black and white), including art-quality reproductions of cyanotypes by Binh Danh and chlorophyll prints by Binh Danh and Robert Schultz.
Text: Poetry and prose by Walt Whitman with responding poems and essays by Robert Schultz, plus guest essays on Walt Whitman and the Civil War by Barbara Bair, David Lehman, Stanley Plumly, and Molly Rogers, with a forward by Cindy Petersen, Executive Director, Taubman Museum of Art.
Design: Clothbound with typography and design by Terrence Chouinard and Cherilyn Colbert.
Dimensions: 8.75 x 8.25 inches (164 pages)
Retail price: $48
Publication: May 2019, Taubman Museum of Art, Publisher
Along with the other benefits listed, supporters at the designated levels also will receive the following premiums available only through this Kickstarter campaign
At the $80 and above support level, receive a signed copy of the book and the fine art broadside (limited to 80):
At the $120 and above support level, receive a signed copy of the book and one of three 13" x 19" archival quality prints of War Memoranda two-page spreads (each limited to 5):
At the $500 and above support level, receive a signed copy of the book and a set of 10 archival quality War Memoranda page spreads, 13" x 19" each, held in a handmade portfolio made by Robert Schultz (limited to 5):
At the $1,500 and above support level, receive a signed copy of the book and one of eight one-of-a-kind daguerreotypes from Binh Danh's series, "The Crosses," made at the Lafayette, California memorial to American casualties of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (limited to 8):
At the $2,000 and above support level, receive a signed copy of the book and one of three unique chlorophyll prints of Liljenquist Family Collection Civil War portraits by Robert Schultz, cast and framed at 13" x 10" (limited to 3):
Binh Danh (MFA Stanford; BFA San Jose State University) emerged as an artist of national importance with work that investigates his Vietnamese heritage and our collective memory of war. His technique incorporates his invention of the chlorophyll printing process, in which photographic images appear embedded in leaves through the action of photosynthesis. His newer body of work focuses on nineteenth-century photographic processes, applying them in an investigation of battlefield landscapes and contemporary memorials. A recent series of daguerreotypes celebrated the United States National Park system during its anniversary year.
His work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The DeYoung Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the George Eastman Museum, and many others. He received the 2010 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, and in 2012 he was a featured artist at the 18th Biennale of Sydney in Australia. He is represented by Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA and Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix, AZ. He lives and works in San Jose, CA and teaches photography at San Jose State University.
Robert Schultz, author of five books and an exhibiting artist, has received a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Award in Fiction, the Virginia Quarterly Review’s Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry, and Cornell University’s Corson Bishop Poetry Prize. His books include three collections of poetry (Ancestral Altars, Winter in Eden, Vein Along the Fault), a novel (The Madhouse Nudes), and a work of nonfiction (We Were Pirates: a Torpedoman’s Pacific War). He has spoken at the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, Oxford University, and a wide variety of other colleges and universities.
In art, Schultz’s media include cameraless photography (chlorophyll prints, scanography) and artist’s books. Schultz’s chlorophyll prints have been featured by LensCulture and are held by the Library of Congress, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia, and by private collectors in the US and abroad. He has taught at Cornell University, the University of Virginia, Luther College, and Roanoke College, where he was the John P. Fishwick Professor of English.
The Taubman Museum of Art
The Taubman Museum of Art is publishing War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials. Situated in Roanoke, Virginia, the museum features eleven galleries as part of the Fralin Center for American Art and originates 15-20 exhibitions per year. Exhibited artists have ranged from Kehinde Wiley to John James Audubon and from Sally Mann to Norman Rockwell. The Museum also is home to a permanent collection featuring the work of artists such as Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Purvis Young, Petah Coyne and John Cage. The Taubman building was designed by architect Randall Stout, who took care to use materials and design elements that honor naturalistic elements of the Roanoke region. Among these features are the 77-foot glass peak in the atrium which echoes the point of the Roanoke Star and the undulating roofline that reflects the Blue Ridge mountains. The Taubman Museum of Art is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Video production credit: Brittney Rowe
Risks and challenges
The War Memoranda book is fully designed in camera-ready pages and all artworks are complete and in place. The Taubman Museum of Art has scheduled publication in May. The risks and challenges when publishing a photobook include the possibility of delay, but the printer is ready and waiting for the green light to print and bind a great hardcover edition. If this campaign is successful, we will do everything possible to make sure the book is published as scheduled in time for the May 31, 2019 celebration of Walt Whitman's 200th birthday.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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