Shannon Egan, Gettysburg College
Miguel de Baca
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The Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College is extremely pleased to mount the remarkable series of paintings, photographs, and mixed-media installation by contemporary artist Lisa Blas entitled Meet Me at the Mason Dixon. This exhibition is an official part of Gettysburg area’s 150th Commemoration of the American Civil War as well as Gettysburg College’s Kick-Off event for this significant anniversary. Gettysburg provides an especially appropriate backdrop for the exhibition, as the artist took the history of this “hallowed ground” and its current resonances as the subject of her work. Blas traveled the Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as to the Antietam National Battlefield, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, among many other sites, to investigate how national identity and cultural myths are shaped in response to this momentous period of American history.
The title of this exhibition, Meet Me at the Mason Dixon, invokes an encounter at a historical boundary line known for centuries of conflict. The Mason-Dixon Line originally was intended to solve a British colonial dispute. Later, it divided the northern from the southern United States based on the legality of slavery, and as such, symbolizes the massive fracturing of the country during the American Civil War. To contemporary artist Lisa Blas, however, the Mason-Dixon emblematizes the tensions implicit in the concept of historical memory. How are traumas witnessed and remembered? What becomes codified as history, and what other narratives are thereby repressed? What age-old divisions haunt us in the present? Blas comprehends such questions as open-ended, visualizing the past as fundamentally, and persistently, conflicted. [excerpt]
Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College
Lisa Blas, Mason-Dixon Line, 150th Commemoration of the American Civil War, Battle of Gettysburg, historical memory, Civil War and memory
Egan, Shannon and de Baca, Miguel, "Lisa Blas: Meet Me at the Mason Dixon" (2011). Schmucker Art Catalogs. 8.