puzzling together history

Posted by on May 25, 2009 in Illustration | 1 comment

Memorial Day seems like a good time to mention that I recently worked on a puzzle activity for the Fifth Maine. Built as a reunion spot for Civil War veterans, now it is a museum and community hall, site of countless weddings, concerts, and educational outings. I’ve visited the Fifth Maine on Peaks Island many times for events over the years, but learned plenty during the research for this assignment. Marty designed this sharp logo awhile back that captures the clean lines of this antique structure.

I browsed around the cases of artifacts, all of them locked and in the actual arrangement by the original Fifth Maine Regiment veterans. Who knows what this is?

It’s hard tack, a common food staple for Civil War soldiers. Looks like a prehistoric Saltine. As a line drawing, it could also be a mattress. Sort of.

And what’s a war without bullets? It’s a curious display, thinking about saving bullets, possibly removed from the wounded.

My drawing is large, a metaphor of how big a part they play in carnage.

I also found a small-scale cannon. A toy? For all those generations who play war.

And my drawing. You see how I rely on my photos for reference.

I was mainly interested in artifacts with a variety of sizes and shapes, knowing that I would be jumbling them, juxtaposing it all to disguise the elements.

I liked this canteen for it’s number. Two who?

Ovals are a good drawing challenge.

I photographed and drew 13 objects. Then I made a rough sketch, throwing them together.

I scanned my separate drawings, then made a layered composition in Photoshop, where I could play around with the size and scale of each artifact. Since the watch seemed like an obvious thing, I buried that beneath other items. I made the bullet big, while the cannon is tucked into the corner.

Together, this puzzles engages young visitors to the museum to find and think about these items. Maybe ask what they were for, how they were made, who was it that used them, who placed them here on display. And why? All good questions, not just for children or Memorial Day, but every day we think about our national heritage, and about the men who built this place to commemorate their battles and the struggle for an end to slavery. Today’s island volunteers and docents who keep the Fifth Maine open and maintained are the stewards of that precious legacy.

And the view can’t be beat!

One Comment

  1. The artistic talents that you and Marty have brought to the Fifth Maine enliven both the programming and the museum’s public image!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *