Artist’s Book Talk: Robert Schultz – War Memoranda

Matthew Brady’s wartime Whitman, chlorophyll print (c) Robert Schultz

Join book artist Robert Schultz 7 PM on Friday, March 1 at the Virginia Center for the Book for a presentation on his latest project:
War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials
A book of photography, poetry, and comment on the U.S. Civil War and our contemporary moment

About the Project…
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?”

Artist’s Book Talk with Robert Schultz 
War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials
Friday, March 1, 2019, at 7:00 PM
Virginia Center for the Book
at the Jefferson School City Center

see the War Memoranda Kickstarter funding page