Monday, December 30, 2013

Cortez, Colorado

Doors as Metaphors:  Doors and portals symbolize transition. They are common design elements of traditional cemeteries (rare on memorial lawns). How often, though, do you find doorknobs and keyholes? On this headstone, the focus is clearly on some non-traditional elements of design. What do they symbolize? What is the narrative that goes with them? Perhaps that key hole lets us look into the future: into 2014. Have a good new year!  Cortez Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hampton, Virginia

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:  Read the Gospel of John and figure out why the Good Shepherd is an appropriate presence in the Christian cemetery:  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."  Parklawn Memorial Park.  [2012]


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Springfield, Massachusetts

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:   The cemetery is no place for the baby Jesus, but Jesus does appear at other stages in the life cycle.  Judging from the fatherly face, that's probably Joseph.  At his heels is the toddler Jesus, and in the background is a glimpse of the future.  Merry Christmas!  St. Michael's Cemetery.  [2013]


Monday, December 23, 2013

Worcester, Massachusetts

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:   Cemeteries are woven together by narratives of death:  not exactly in keeping with a holy day that celebrates the birth of everlasting life.  That may be the reason why gravestones never feature the infant Jesus, and rarely the boy.  There are exceptions, however.  In Roman Catholic cemeteries you sometimes find the Holy Family and the pre-adolescent Savior.  Notre Dame Cemetery.  [2013]


Friday, December 20, 2013

St. Pauls, North Carolina

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:  A life-size Jesus stands watchfully at the foot of a couple's grave.  They are in heaven, and Jesus is on earth.  Turn back the clock ten years:  Jesus is in heaven, and they are on earth.  Ironic, don't you think?  Oak Ridge Cemetery.  [2012]


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Marietta, Georgia

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:  It might be rare to find a statue of Jesus dominating a single grave, but it's not so rare to find Jesus, as a larger-than-life effigy, dominating an entire section of private and Roman Catholic cemeteries.  Here he seems to be offering a benediction, a blessing of the type that pastors use to end each service.   Christmas is coming:  you can tell by the color of flowers on the graves.  Georgia Memorial Cemetery.  [2013]

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Jesus is the Reason for the Season:  How do we honor the birth of Jesus?  With religious or secular symbols?  How do we honor departed loved ones in cemeteries?  With religious or secular symbols?  Dialectical tensions in society are often reflected on cultural landscapes.  Here, a dominating white-marble Jesus has been erected to watch over a family burial plot.  What symbols dominate our Christmas landscapes?  Rosewood Cemetery.  [2012]


Friday, December 13, 2013

Xenia, Ohio

Woodland Cemetery:  What principles govern the spatial organization of modern cemeteries? Principle #3: Infants who die (long before their parents have invested in cemetery plots) may have their mortal remains interred in "Baby Lands." They are the saddest spot in most cemeteries. [2013]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Xenia, Ohio

Woodland Cemetery:  What principles govern the spatial organization of modern cemeteries? Principle #2: Men and women who have served and been honorably discharged from the service often have a section of the cemetery to call their own. It makes for an impressive display, especially between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July when you will find even more red-white-and-blue than at other times of the year. [2013]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Xenia, Ohio

Woodland Cemetery:  What principles govern the spatial organization of modern cemeteries? Principle #1: Husbands and wives are buried side by side and often share a headstone. At least some of their offspring, with their spouses, are buried nearby, perhaps in a distinctly marked family plot or in a group of clustered (though not necessarily contiguous) lots. Headstones like this remind descendants of the life their ancestors lived. Woodland is a first-generation "rural cemetery" that continues to serve the people of Xenia. [2013]

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cuba, Alabama

Signature Landscapes: Her friends and family have created a memorializing microworld in the town cemetery. They have touched every square inch of the burial plot with their love, provided a bench for contemplating questions eternal, and written of their many memories. Above it all, they have placed the signature she left behind. Clay Memorial Cemetery. [2005]

. . . I can’t recall one time I didn’t enjoy myself when I was with you, or couldn’t feel overcome by your lovely personality for the way you were always able to make a group of people feel like family for the way you have always brought people together and for how you always will For all the times from then to now Thank you Jina Michele Moore for all the good times. They will never be forgotten."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Laramie, Wyoming

Signature Landscapes:  The signature captures the forward motion of the cyclist, doesn't it?  It also captures the energy of grammar schools devoted to teaching cursive.  The influence of Peterson looms large over this headstone, though only those of a certain age will even know what 'Peterson' means.  The problem with the subscriptio is that it's almost too perfect, perhaps font-perfect.  Green Hill Cemetery.  [2013]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Moab, Utah

Signature Landscapes:  We want to make a difference.  We want to be remembered.  We want to put our signature on the world.  Why are signatures so rare on headstones?  In signing our names, we establish our identity.  Just think back to high school:  How many signatures did you try out before you found one that fit?  That's the one that made a difference.  That's the one that should leave a lasting impression on the world.  Grand Valley Cemetery.  [2013]