The York County Public Library has been awarded a Picturing America grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The award consists of 40 high quality reproductions of selected masterpieces. With these masterpieces, NEH aims to tell the story of America through its artwork. Each month several of the Picturing America reproductions will be on display at the Tabb Library. Take a moment and explore our artistic heritage — the people, places and events that have shaped our county.
The reproductions currently on display from the Picturing America collection include The Veteran in a New Field by Winslow Homer and Ladder for Booker T. Washington by Martin Puryear.
The Veteran in a New Field, 1865, by Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
After General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in April 1865, the Union and Confederate armies were peacefully disbanded. The soldiers who had survived the ordeal were free to go home and resume their pre-war occupations. The Veteran in a New Field depicts one of those Civil War veterans recently returned from the front, harvesting a field of grain in the midday sun. The wheat has grown high, and the field stretches all the way to the horizon; an unusually bountiful crop had, in fact, marked the end of the war. The farmer’s military jacket and canteen (with an insignia that identifies him as a former Union soldier) lie discarded in the foreground, almost covered by fallen stalks of grain.
Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996, by Martin Puryear (1941- )
Puryear’s Ladder reflects handcraft techniques he honed abroad while studying in West Africa and in Scandinavia. The side rails, polished strands of wood, are fashioned from a golden ash sapling that once grew on Puryear’s upstate New York property; and the ladder’s now sinuous, now sharp, rails, connected by round, lattice-like rungs that swell in the middle, reflect the wood’s organic cycle of growth and change. Puryear says that he “forced” the perspective of the ladder. Although the rungs begin at a respectable 11¾ inches wide at the bottom, the distance between them diminishes as they climb upward thirty-six feet. Their span narrows to a dizzying 1¼ inches at the top of the ladder, giving the illusion of much greater height. Suspended about three feet above the floor and anchored to its surroundings by almost undetectable wires, Ladder seems to float precariously in space.