Sunday, June 05, 2011


The photo is part of a project I'm working on that involves memorials in the form of angels or other female figures. I started quite by accident after noticing a sculpture of an angel in the cemetery in Gabriels, NY, a tiny hamlet near Saranac Lake.  I've stopped to photograph it several times when passing by because it is such an appealing bit of sculpture and it inspired me to look for other memorials in that vein.

So far I've found only a handful of these sculptures. Most figurative memorials seem to be public monuments of male figures, frequently soldiers or founding fathers, placed in parks, town squares or near government buildings but these are in cemeteries where they are rarely seen and often unnoticed even by those who do venture there. At two cemeteries that I have visited I have encountered maintenance workers and asked if there were such sculptures and in both cases they didn't know despite working among the monuments regularly.

The above is one of three that I found when I visited the graves of my grandparents. My grandfather died before I was born and I hadn't been there since my grandmother's funeral nearly 50 years ago. The figures all seem to be from the 1800's to very early 1900's when people visited cemeteries more regularly. In fact in the early 1800's people would go for picnics in cemeteries on summer weekends. Modern memorials tend to be rectangular blocks with names inscribed and occasionally a shallow relief. My hope is to find a dozen or more of these sculptures and produce a small portfolio of prints.

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