Wednesday, 21 August 2013 12:58

American militia prepare to face British regulars during a reenactment of the Battle of North Point last September. photo by Greg Nickey

Photo exhibit, presentation set at library

by John G. Bailey

The North Point Public Library is highlighting the War of 1812 with a photography exhibit of period reenactments by CCBC student Greg Nickey, currently on display in the periodical room through the end of September, as well as a discussion by Fort McHenry historian Vince Vaise entitled “The Battle of Baltimore and the Birth of an Anthem,” planned for Saturday, Sept. 22, at 11 a.m. at the library.
    Nickey, who is 26 and has mild cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, discussed his interest in photography in an e-mail to The Eagle.
    “I started taking photos when I was 16 years old. Since this year is my 10th anniversary as a photographer, I’m going on some special photo shoots to celebrate. One of them is the Battle of North Point reenactment in September. I’m also going to the Baltimore Grand Prix.”
    His portfolio includes butterflies, but his speciality is anything to do with Baltimore.
    Nickey’s work is promoted through CCBC’s Foundation Photo Connection, which profiles student photographers in exhibits throughout the area.
    As previously reported in The Eagle, Nickey’s color photos of Baltimore were paired with the black and white photos of famed Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine in an exhibit held at the World Trade Center in 2012.
    Nickey’s work was also featured in the fall 2012 edition of Maryland Natural Resource Magazine, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources magazine, and in other Maryland publications.
    In Nickey’s exhibit, entitled “The War of 1812 and Life in the 1800s,” many of the photos are close-up shots of period artifacts — the buttons on the blue blazer of an American militiaman’s uniform; the exposed sole and topside of a pair of shoes; a dinner plate with dried fish. The details revealed express Nicky’s keen interest in the subject matter.
    “I love taking photos so much,” Nickey said. “One day I hope it will be a full-time job.”

History speaks
    Vince Vaise has been telling the story of the Battle of Baltimore since he was a high school student in 1987. A park ranger since 1990, he is currently historian and chief of interpretations at Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine.
     As much a living history  performance as a discussion, Vaise will be dressed as an American militiaman and use reproductions of military artifacts along with a replica of the Star-Spangled Banner flag during his presentation.
    “Knowing local history gives people a pride of place,” Vaise said in explaining the relevance of 200-year-old events for people of the area today. “Local pride is important because it makes for better American citizens today.”
    To facilitate connections to the past, Vaise will also have historical maps that participants can use to match current points of interest with battle landmarks.
    “So many people take places like North Point peninsula and Fort McHenry for granted,” he said. “But these are places that helped shape our national identity. North Point was one of the larger battles of the war fought exclusively by America militia — it really is the story of the citizen-soldier.”
    Vaise encourages parents to bring their children to his presentation. “It is so important to get the younger generation interested in history and this [presentation] will be a fun way to do it,” he said. “History is neat and engaging if you do it right.”