The Art of War

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “An Artist in the World Wars” by Ron Michael.

Michael_Poor2 copy

Valley of the Mosselle at Metz by Henry Varnum Poor (1887-1970), 1918, watercolor on paper, 6 x 8 inches. Greenough Collection, Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery.
During his time in Europe during the First World War, Poor documented this scene of the Mosselle River flowing through the town of Metz in Northeastern France.

Artist Henry Varnum Poor grudgingly entered the First World War because it took him away from his work as a teacher and artist. “Using Kansas-instilled fortitude, however, he made the best of the situation and eventually became regimental artist for the 115th Regiment of Engineers in France,” explains Ron Michael.

“World War II was a different story, with Poor volunteering his artistic and writing skills to document the underappreciated wartime activities along the Alaskan coastline.”

Poor, a native of Chapman, Kansas, was already an accomplished artist when he was drafted to serve in World War I. His duties along the frontlines were dangerous, but he was able to document his surroundings and fellow soldiers in paintings, drawings, and prints. Years later, Poor volunteered his services to again paint and sketch military activities during the second World War. In this Speakers Bureau presentation, Michael compares Poor’s work and writings during the World Wars.

Ron Michael

Ron Michael

Ron Michael is the curator of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, where he has researched Sandzén and other artists in the gallery’s collection.

You can attend Ron Michael’s “An Artist in the World Wars” on September 6th in Lansing. You can also bring this or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at) for more information.