Buttercups and Cannon: My Artist-in-Residence Experience-Nature on the Battlefield

May 3, 2017 by

Buttercups and Cannon: My Artist-in-Residence Experience-Nature on the Battlefield

As I began to plan for my Artist-in-Residence experience at Manassas National Battlefield Park, I thought about how and why the park is important to me.  I hike there often and enjoy sketching along Bull Run and at the Stone Bridge, where I also go to admire spring wildflowers. The beauty of this special place can sometimes make one forget, just for a moment,  the sorrow lingering beneath the soil.

During my time at the park, I will work to capture the layers of history and nature here –the ways in which the two have coexisted. Battles ripped and scarred this graceful landscape, but nature soothed and reclaimed the land and pays homage to those who perished here. History and nature, sorrow and beauty – all are represented.

Samuel Fiske, (pen name Dunn Brown) soldier in the 14th Connecticut and correspondent for the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican wrote about this relationship in 1863:


“Did I tell you ever, among the affecting little things one is always seeing in these stirring war times, how I saw on the Bull Run battle-field (sic) pretty, pure, delicate flowers growing out of the empty ammunition boxes, and a rose thrusting up its graceful head through the top of a Union drum, which doubtless sounded its last charge in that batte, and a cunning, scarlet verbena, peeping out of a fragment of bursted shell, in which strange vase it had been planted?  Wasn’t that peace growing out of war?  Even so shall the graceful and beautiful ever grow out of the horrid and terrible things that transpire in this changing but ever advancing world.”  

This article was published in newspapers around the country in 1863.

With my words and art I hope to capture the many layers of nature and history in this special place.  I hope you will follow me during this artistic adventure.

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