Mar 28, 2006

Civil War seminar sheds light on art

by Jeremy Wicks
Vintage Civil War artifacts and men dressed in both Union and Confederate uniforms filled the halls of DeMoss where Liberty University’s 10th annual Civil War Seminar, Blood on the Canvas: The History of Civil War Art was held on March 24 and 25. The conference highlighted many famous artists with different genres ranging from sculpting to photography. The seminars discussed historical significance of art during the Civil War period and gave an insight into how today’s artist replicate art from the 1860’s.

Special speaker Rob Gibson was an engineer at GM, but now he runs his own business, Gibson’s Photographic Gallery in Gettysburg, Pa. Gibson started his Civil War adventures by attending reenactments, now he shoots vintage Civil War pictures using the same equipment that would have been available to photographers living in the 1860s. “I wanted to do something that was artistic, historical, and different, but I never dreamed that it would become a carrier,” said Gibson.


Gibson’s unusual talent has given him the opportunity to work on the movie sets of Gods and Generals, Gettysburg, Into the West, and Cold Mountain.

Hunter Lesser, a 20 year seasoned archeologist and historical interpreter, has written several works on American history ranging from Kentucky moonshine distillers to Native Americans. His most recent work Rebels at the Gate has become a popular book among history buffs, and was also the topic of his lecture. In his lecture he outlined the Civil War’s first campaign, and the circumstances under which West Virginia was born.

Many attendees dressed in traditional civil war attire and set up tables displaying and selling their Civil War art.

Calvin Ashwell from Bedford County displayed a 1852 US navy sword, and a model he built from scratch of the CSS Alabama, which was constructed in secrecy at a English shipyard for the Confederacy. Ashwell was offered $10,000 for his model boat but he says it is not for sale. “I enjoy building boats and telling people about the past,” said Ashwell.

Contact Jeremy Wicks at

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