UMMA curator Sean Ulmer reveals that the apparent blood-blotch in the Noll photograph is really a drooping red utility flag. And according to Huddleston, the dust cloud was the work of a pesticide sprayer, the toxic cloud depositing another layer of death on the old battlefield.
The UMMA commissioned the Noll photo pair to add a local touch to Huddleston's show. The museum found ten Civil War photos of local vets in the Bentley Library's extensive Civil War holdings. Huddleston picked Noll, a Medal of Honor winner now buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, who belonged to the Twentieth Michigan Infantry. A giant plaque in the museum's second-floor northwest staircase memorializes the Twentieth's valor in numerous battles. The UMMA was built as (Civil War and Spanish-American War) Alumni Memorial Hall; UMMA director James Steward calls it "Ann Arbor's biggest war memorial."
So it's fitting that our biggest war memorial showcases these testaments to vanishing battle sites, many paved over as the result of historical apathy. A tribute, warning, and bleak comment on the brief half-life of memory, Killing Ground is on display through Sunday, November 7.
[Originally published in August, 2004.]