health & hearth
I approached the National Park Service with the proposal for a temporary outdoor installation for the garden at the Clara Barton NHS. I worked with the Park Service through every phase of the project, including educational outreach programs. H & H was installed in the garden of Clara Barton’s home and viewed at night in conjunction with the Bi-Annual Lamp Light tour. The two-minute audiotape recounting Barton’s efforts at the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg (repeated throughout the installation) was heard as viewers approached the garden. Viewers stepped behind the canvas structure to see a circle of candle lanterns and a large stack of heated bricks.
Audio transcript for Health & Hearth/Clara Barton Installation
“Clara Barton, the Battle of Antietam, 17 September 1862. You must be tired?, Clara asked the chief surgeon at the Poffenberger farmhouse. Tired. Yes, I am tired, he replied. Tired of such heartlessness, such neglect and folly. Here are at least 1000 wounded men–terribly wounded, 500 of whom cannot live until daylight without attention, and that 2 inches of candle is all the light I have or can get–what can I do ? Clara led him to the door and pointed to the make shift hospital where the candle lanterns glistened like stars among the waving corn. What is it, asked the doctor. Lanterns. I brought four boxes of them. There will be plenty of light to operate. Don’t despair in your good work Doctor. He looked at her a moment– as if waking from a dream, turned away without a word, and never alluded to the circumstances, but the deference which he paid her was almost painful.
Clara Barton, the Battle of Fredericksburg, 13-14 December 1862. After the Saturday battle the grounds around the Lacy House were covered with thousands of wounded. As Clara tended to the soldiers, she found them nearly frozen upon the snow covered ground. Thinking quickly and using the materials at hand, Clara had her workers dismantle a brick chimney, heat the bricks in a roaring fire and place the bricks around the wounded and dying men to keep them warm. On Monday, wounded soldiers continued to arrive at the Lacy House, many of whom lay on the frozen ground. Again, Clara instructed her workers to keep heated bricks around the wounded all night long. Clara recounts, “I cannot tell you the numbers but some hundreds of the worst wounded men I have ever seen covered every square foot of the floors and porticoes. A man who could find opportunity to lie between the legs of a table thought himself rich, for he was not likely to be stepped on.”
bricks, canvas, wood, gas heater, propane, brass & glass lanterns, candles, metal poles, audio, 10′ x 10’ x 50′
Clara Barton National Historic Site, Glen Echo, MD, 9/1996 & 9/1995
Photographed by Lee Stalsworth