Will Blake

Region: Midwest

My artistic practice centers on the remains of the American Civil War, in particular the reenactments that surround it. I started reenacting the Civil War as a mounted cavalry bugle boy at age twelve. Like many who enter the populist subculture of war reenactment, my participation grew from a childhood fascination with the gear, the action, and the epic narrative.

I now participate in these battles as the embedded artistcorrespondent Winslow Homer. Through this mimetic act, I sketch and paint fellow-reenactors. The paintings I create are as much a reenactment as the weekend battles. They situate themselves in the same liminal space as reenactments: between life/death, past/present, and simulation/reality. Both are forms of historiography that rely on the impact of the visual and use of the body as a vessel of transmission. Their limitations make them inadequate for facilitating a true understanding of the past. What they do provide, however, is a way to examine American identity through the restaging of our history.