Artist H.C. Porter partners with Vicksburg National Military Park with series of paintings

Published 6:22 pm Saturday, July 28, 2018

Looking closly at the photograph, H. C. Porter noticed something unusual about the Confederate soldier’s uniform.

There appeared to be a discrepancy in the image that was not consistent with other pictures she had viewed of Southern soldiers who served during the Civil War.

“When I started to research his backpack and the insignia stuff he had on his uniform, it wasn’t’ matching up with all the Confederate images I was finding,” Porter said.

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So after a little sleuthing, she discovered the image, was not a rebel soldier.

“I found the image on line and it was credited to a New York state militia of some sort,” she said, confirming this was not a Confederate soldier after all it was a Union soldier.

Porter, who is an internationally known painter, printmaker and photographer with a gallery in downtown Vicksburg, has partnered with the Vicksburg National Military Park to produce a series of art pieces that will commemorate the Civil War, and on June 23 at the VNMP Visitor Center the first in an annual series was unveiled.

“We are excited to start this new creative partnership with H.C. Porter,” VNMP superintendent Bill Justice said.

“During the Civil War, cameras were pretty much non-existent, and art served as the primary medium to portray the effects of war to the home front,” Justice said. “And with Porter’s unique approach, we think this will help us revive the important connection between art and the Civil War, and help to tell the story of the Civil War in a new, contemporary way.”

To begin the process, Porter said she, along with Scott Babinowich, who is the director of interpretation at the VNMP, went through the park’s archives and tried to decide where they would start telling the story.

They ultimately decided on a soldier who was wearing a grey uniform.

“I was really drawn to this guy because of the intense look he had, and they said he was a Confederate so I said fine, I will start here,” Porter said.

However, after Porter’s discovery, Babinowich and Justice both concurred that during the first battle of the Civil War that was fought in Manassas, Va., some of the Union troops had also worn grey uniforms, which obviously led to the confusion. Porter added that this must have also been challenging to those who were fighting.

“It must have been completely confusing with the soldiers not knowing who they should be firing at,” she said.

This first piece in the VNMP series that will commemorate the Civil War, Porter said, is entitled “Determined,” and is being sponsored by Thad McLaurin III, of Jackson.

Outside of being commissioned to create family portraits, Porter is deviating slightly, she said, from her normal mixed media process, since she is working from a studio shot that was taken more than 150 years ago.

“Because this was a difficult image I had to kind of rebuild the photograph in order to bring my own color and texture to the piece,” Porter said, especially since the first step in her process begins with a high contrast silk screened print.

“I wanted to make sure I maintained all the facial details because that is what was so striking about the image,” she said.

Once the black and white print was made, Porter completed the piece by using acrylic paint and prisma color pencils to add color and detail.

“What is exciting about this project,” Porter said, “is that it is a contemporary interpretation of this historic event and I think it will be an interesting way to present it to the public as an educational tool.”

Justice said Porter’s artwork will be reproduced on several different products, and will be available for sale through Eastern National at the VNMP Visitor Center and at the H.C. Porter Gallery on Washington St.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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