During the summer, Nathan painted an 18-by-5-foot acrylic on canvas mural that depicts significant school history and activities involving Troopers. The mural shows events such as the 1913 Logansport Flood, the riding hall fire of 1915, and inaugural parades, combined with Troop activities such as the Mounted Color Guard, polo, and rough riding.
Troop B counselor Tim Montgomery had asked Nathan to create a series of paintings over the summer that would help new cadets learn the history of the Black Horse Troop and the school during the new cadet orientation. Nathan opted to go with one larger piece that serves the same purpose.
“I think it’s great. It is very impressive,” Montgomery said, adding that new cadets were able to learn and explain the significance of the images and events pictured.
Also part of the mural are individuals who played a significant role in the history of Culver Military Academy and the Troop: Col. Alexander Fleet, Gen. Leigh Gignilliat, Willis Maxson ’39 (who led the effort to create the Honor Code), former horsemanship director Capt. Isaac Kitts, and Jack Vaughn ’43, whose family funded the renovation of the riding hall in 1991.
Nathan spent about five weeks working on the canvas at his Raleigh, N.C., home. His family cleared furniture from the living room so he could spread the canvas on the floor. It was, literally, back-breaking work at times, but the gain was worth the pain for the young artist.
He worked on the mural for about a month before traveling to Spoleto, Italy, for three weeks in July to study visual arts with the Spoleto Study Abroad program. He returned home “with improved painting skills” and finished the mural in the 10 days between the end of the trip and leaving for Culver.
He basically worked freehand, using historical and contemporary photographs as a guide, and creating some images from a combination of photographs.