Museum’s WWI Exhibits Reveal Haunting Beauties

WWI trench art exhibit at Saint Mary's Museum of ArtWorld War I is at the center of current exhibits at the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art . From Swords to Plowshares: Metal Trench Art From World War I, features numerous pieces of art crafted from tools of the war, while Songs of the Patriot: How Music Helped Win World War One, displays the decorative covers of sheet music made popular during the war.

Made by both soldiers and civilians, the metal trench art is constructed out of empty artillery shells, bullet cartridges and other objects found in the camps and trenches, revealing an intricacy that is both surprising and beautiful. Often extremely detailed and featuring various subjects from the likenesses of soldiers to nature scenes, the fact that many of these works of art are constructed out of artillery shells is visible only in their unique cylindrical shape and size.  Yet this is also manipulated in some of the displayed pieces.

The transformation of leftover tools of war into works of art is also seen in the smaller objects on display. From silverware to a crucifix made out of bullet cartridges, these objects reveal a delicacy that doesn’t seem possible considering their medium. Exhibit of sheet music covers circa WWI

Perhaps one of the most memorable pieces of metal trench art in the exhibit is the cathedral-like structure made out of bullet cartridges. Large and prominently displayed at the beginning of the exhibit, this piece captures the both the eye and the mind.

Displayed on the walls alongside the metal trench art, the colorful sheet music covers offer a glimpse into the music of the war. One of the covers on display accompanies the song “Let’s All Be Americans Now,” by Irving Berlin. The lyrics are posted next to the covers, so viewers can read the songs as they browse through the artistic covers and the nearby metal trench art.

Other exhibits at the Museum include Malcolm Lubliner: The Automotive Landscape, which features photographs of vintage cars, as well as Illuminating Divine World Anew: Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible.