The Artside: Civil War photographs are view into reality of war

Photographs of the Civil War era from the collection of Judith J. Norrell are on exhibit at the Morris Museum of Art, offering rare views of the impact of war on the land and its people. The exhibit features some 30 photographs by many of the noted photographers of the day, ranging from tintype and ambrotype portraits to rare images of African-American regiments.


In his introduction to the book that will accompany the exhibit, Morris director Kevin Grogan notes the Civil War was the first to be extensively documented through photography.

“The images of a conflict long past still have the power to stir our emotions and open our eyes to the harrowing reality of war,” he said, adding “the shocking realism of these images stripped away the romance of war.”

Titled Shadows of History, the book features an essay by William F. Stapp, who was the first curator of photography at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and comments from Kaitlin Booher, the assistant curator of photography and media arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, where the photographs were originally exhibited. Stapp will be in Augusta on Jan. 10 for a talk and book signing.

Norrell is a noted art collector whose extensive and varied interests have led her to seek out important works by celebrated artists as well as those lesser-known. We in Augusta are fortunate that she is a good friend of the Morris Museum of Art, and many works from her Southern collections are now housed here.

Norrell grew up in Arkansas and Washington, D.C., where both her parents served as members of Congress. She graduated from the Holton Arms School in Washington before attending Ohio Wesleyan University and George Washington University Law School. Now retired from a successful lobbying firm she established, she divides her time between her home in Washington and a farm in Virginia.

In addition to the Civil War photography show, the Morris will highlight other aspects of the Norrell collections with a show titled Images of Community, to be shown in the stairwell gallery Jan. 29-April 14, and examples from her folk art collection in the west lobby gallery, Jan. 29 through April 28.

Norrell will talk about her collection and the Morris’s acquisition of more than 1,000 works at an Art at Lunch program Feb. 8.


START OUT the new year with First Friday on Jan. 4 in downtown Augusta. Among the many evening events will be a special 2013 promotion at Gallery on the Row, where a selection of works will be priced at $20.13 during a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Also welcome OddFellows Gallery as the newest addition to Broad Street’s Artists’ Row.

LOOKING AHEAD: Mark your calendars for an exhibit featuring work by Brian Rust opening Jan. 10 at Sacred Heart Cultural Center.

The reception begins at 5 p.m., so we can check that out before heading to the lecture and book signing at the Morris.

Coming up that weekend is the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s Wet Paint party, planned for Jan. 12 at Julian Smith Casino.


CONGRATULATIONS to Augusta artist Caroline Swanson, whose painting, Friends, won the Frank Webb award in Aquamedia in the Audubon Artists 70th annual online exhibition. See more about the artist at

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