ST. JOHNSBURY – Catamount Arts will present “Ghosts: Civil War Portraits,” by William Betcher, in the arts center’s Rankin Gallery on Eastern Avenue. The exhibition will run from March 20 through June 4. An artists’ reception to celebrate this and the Fried Family Gallery exhibition is scheduled for April 15.
Inspired by a lifelong fascination with antique portraits of boys in uniform, “Ghosts: Civil War Portraits” reanimates daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes of soldiers and women using modern technology. After scanning Nineteenth-century plates and printing them on transparent media, artist William Betcher applies light to project a three-dimensional shadow or ghost on the wall behind each piece. From these historic relics, treasured mementos from a time when photography was rare, and in many cases, the solitary preservation of a person’s likeness, Betcher prompts a reexamination of what was captured by the old technology and what is released by the new.
“Many of these images were made at soldiers’ campsites,” Betcher writes of the project, “when they did not know if they would live to return home.” Betcher points out that women also appear in the portraits, having “also experienced war, devastated by loss…and related malnutrition and epidemics.”
William Betcher is a photographer, writer, and psychiatrist educated at Johns Hopkins, Boston University, Harvard Medical School, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Griffin Museum, Catamount Arts, the Danforth Art Museum, Soho Photo Gallery, PhotoPlace Gallery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Mass Audubon Habitat, the University of New England, and other places. He published a book of landscape photography, “Anthem: For a Warm Little Pond,” which was included in the Griffin Museum’s Photobook exhibition in 2016, and he is the author of four nonfiction books. Betcher is the photography editor for Solstice Literary Magazine.
To learn more about Betcher’s show at Catamount’s Rankin Gallery, or about the new exhibition opening in the Fried Family Gallery, visit catamountarts.org. Both Catamount Arts galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.