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Dishman Art Museum exhibition explores Civil War themes through a contemporary lens

Eliot Dudik The Battle of Kocks Plantation, La.

Lamar University’s Dishman Art Museum is currently exhibiting large-scale photographs by Eliot Dudik from two recent series, “Broken Land” and “Still Lives.” “Broken Land” offers a series of color landscape photographs of Civil War battlefields in various seasons, while “Still Lives” is a collection of portraits of modern Civil War re-enactors. The exhibition will run through Nov. 6. Dudik will be on hand for a reception and gallery talk at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 16. Light refreshments will be served at the free event.

“What visitors to the exhibition will experience first and foremost is great photography,” said Dennis Kiel, director of the Dishman Art Museum. “Beyond that, there's a lot going on in Dudik’s beautiful landscapes. It's very hard to believe that these lush images were once filled with much violence and war. They, along with the haunting and intense portraits of the Civil War re-enactors, will hopefully make us think about the problems and political divide in America today and create a dialogue about how we can make things better.”

In “Broken Land,” Dudik depicts American Civil War battlefields as contemporary landscapes in order to explore the similarities in cultural and political conflict between now and the time period that led up to the war. The Smithsonian magazine described the highly detailed images as a “photographic requiem for America's Civil War battlefields.”

“Perspectives on the Civil War and contemporary culture are vast and deeply engrained in our heritage,” said Dudik in a statement about the exhibit. “These photographs are an attempt to preserve American history, not to relish it, but recognize its cyclical nature and to derail that seemingly inevitable tendency for repetition.”

Eliot Dudik Ian Dillinger“Still Lives” is a gallery of portraits of Civil War re-enactors at the culmination of their performance. The individuals, shot in close-up, hover slightly above the ground where they fell in the re-enactment battles, looking into the camera.

Ian Dillinger
16th South Carolina
Died 45 Times (died twice in one battle)

“The idea of controlling one’s death, choosing when and where to perform and re-perform one’s demise, is a fascinating study in psychology and consciousness,” said Dudik. “These portraits provide a sense of the diversity of actors existing in this community, many of whom devote their lives to this performance.”

Dudik is a visiting assistant professor of photography at the College of William & Mary. His work was recently featured on CNN and has been exhibited around the country. He was the recipient of the 2014 PhotoNOLA Prize and was selected for the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2015 Festival.

The Dishman Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call (409) 880-8959 or visit

Pictured Above: Eliot Dudik, Kocks Plantation, Louisiana

Pictured Below: Eliot Dudik, The Battle of Aiken, South Carolina

Eliot Dudik The Battle of Aiken SC