* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.
William Blake b. 1991 is an artist based in the Chicagoland area. He has been instructed by master painters such as David Leffel, Clayton J. Beck, Per Elof Nilsson Ricklund, and Jura Bedic. He studied at the Florence Academy of Art in the summer of 2012, the Glasgow School of Art in the spring of 2013 and will be returning to the University of Illinois for his senior year in the fall of 2013.
William explains the work by saying, “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 at the age of twelve as a mounted cavalry bugle boy. Like many in the hobby, my participation in the re-staging of war grew from a childhood fascination with the gear, the action, and the ability to enter into an epic narrative. The historical paintings I create are as much a reenactment as the weekend battles. These paintings situate themselves in a similar space, the same liminal space reenactment inhabits; between life/death, past/present, and simulation/reality. Both are forms of historiographies that rely on the impact of the visual and use of the body as a vessel of transmission as well as mimetic interpretation. The limitations of these make them undesirable to facilitate a true understanding of the past. What they do provide, however, is a way to examine American identity through the re-staging of our history.”