To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War, the Terra Foundation for American Art
and The Newberry have co-organized Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North, which runs Sept. 27Mar. 24, 2014, at The Newberry, 60 W. Walton St.
Focusing on the enormous, and costly, effect the war had on civilians, Home Front includes paintings by Winslow Homer, Frederic Edwin Church, and other American artists of the period; first editions by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott; sheet music from Chicago-based music publishers Root and Cady; and magazine illustrations that depict the changing roles of women and children who supported the war effort.
Home Front explores the domestic side of life during the Civil War, an aspect of the era which generally receives less attention than the battlefields but nevertheless is crucial to a richer understanding of this important period in United States history, said Terra Foundation for American Art President and CEO Elizabeth Glassman. Projects such as this are crucial to our mission of fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States.
Chicagos only major exhibition during the Civil War sesquicentennial, Home Front, comprehensively examines the culture of the Northern home front through visual materials that illustrate the wars influence on:
Households and the cotton economies,
The ways in which the absence of young men from the home changed daily life,
How war relief work linked home fronts and battle fronts,
Why Indians on the frontier were pushed out of the riven nations consciousness during the war years, and
How wartime landscape paintings illuminated the nations past, present, and future.
American history and culture is a core strength area of our collection and of scholarship pursued at The Newberry for many decades, said Newberry President David Spadafora. This is especially true of the Civil War era, which of course is a critical part of the American story.
Today, many Americans view war at a great distance, mediated by technology that makes it possible to avoid thinking about how war effects our daily lives, said Newberry Vice President of Research and Academic Programs and exhibition co-curator Daniel Greene. This was simply not the case for those who remained at home during the Civil War. This exhibition is designed to help visitors understand the enormous and lasting effect of the Civil War on those who experienced the war at home, as well as on the entire country.
In conjunction with the exhibition opening, the University of Chicago Press will publish a companion volume to Home Front, which will be the first book to explore the visual culture of a world far removed from the horror of war, yet intimately bound to it. The book includes a foreword by award-winning Civil War scholar Adam Goodheart and essays by five humanities scholars, including exhibition co-curators Greene and Peter John Brownlee, Associate Curator at the Terra Foundation.
The exhibition represents a beautiful marriage of objects from two well-regarded Chicago collections to address a subject of critical importance, Brownlee said. The pairing of fine and popular arts from the period makes this exhibition, and its accompanying book, unique among others that examine the war and its impact.
The other three book authors are: Sarah Burns, professor of art history emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington; Diane Dillon, director of scholarly and undergraduate programs, the Newberry; and Scott Manning Stevens, director of the DArcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, the Newberry.