Saturday, December 10, 2011

Not Exactly an Angel

I was going through Ellenburg, NY yesterday and stopped by a cemetery there to photograph the figures on either side of the entrance gate for my angel series. They aren't proper angels though and they are not carved from stone. They appear to have been cast in pieces using concrete. The figure above is over the word "Hope" on the left of the entrance. The one on the right side of the entrance is "Faith" and although I did photograph it, I will not be using it in my angel series. Both figures are weathered significantly as is evident in the above image where aggregate (stone filler mixed with the cement to make concrete) is exposed all over the surface. Also they appear to have been cast in pieces and then assembled but there are voids in the surface which results in a somewhat grotesque appearance when viewed closely. I have disguised one of the voids in the image above by burning down the shadows to hide the fact that there is a gap between her neck and her body. I like the facial expression though so it might become part of the series anyway.

The "Faith" figure however is nothing short of ghoulish. Pieces of her face have spalled off leaving gaps that open into the inside of the head looking for all the world like some horror movie character. Adding to the effect is her pose, head bent forward face down with her hands hanging limply over the arms of the cross in front of her. I'm not sure how the pose represented "Faith" even when it was whole. It certainly doesn't in its deteriorated state.

I wandered to the back of the cemetery to see if there were any other figures. There was a large Jesus figure at the back of the cemetery painted gold (free standing, not associated with any grave). The were two smaller cast figures on grave markers, A Jesus, the good shepherd with a lamb on his shoulder and one of Mary. I didn't photograph any of them because they don't fit my project and I have no interest in collecting photographs of more modern cast figures. They are too commonplace in appearance. The "Hope" figure is cast (I'm mainly looking for carved stone figures) but she is sufficiently unusual in her pose to possibly merit a place in the series. I haven't decided yet.

While at the back I wandered by the stone vault which stands in the center of what once was a circular concrete pad, now partly broken up and grassed over, overlooking a brook that flows behind the cemetery. From the back of the circular area I got the view below of a small stepped cascade in the brook, more my usual subject matter than the things I have been photographing lately and a nice counterpoint to the macabre "Faith" figure at the entrance.

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