Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bonaventure Cemetery


(Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. Click on image to enlarge. This is a 160 acre public cemetery that became world famous when Sylvia Shaw Judson's Bird Girl sculpture (1936) was shot by photographer Jack Leigh for the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.)

I'm far behind in my blogging but hoping to catch up. I blog mostly for myself, as a way to remember artistic inspirations and document the progression of my work. Thus, catching up is important....I might otherwise forget! Memory...the very fabric of memory...is important to me.

Recently, I've been stitching on a new series. All the work happens to be quilts...which for me is a little strange. I've never thought of myself as a quilter but somehow it just seems the right way to use all the grave rubbings I created last autumn in Maine. I'm appliqueing the silk rubbings and vintage linens together. The process seems as much about personal mortality as it does in the preservation of universal memories.

(Above: Several yards of grave rubbings created in Maine. Crayon on silk....following an idea from Jeanne Williamson's The Uncommon Quilter.)

Mortality, especially my own, and MEMORY...these are the feelings I have when visiting cemeteries....and I love walking through graveyards. There are stories just beneath the surface...entire families who have left a mark, a name, a clue to their existence. I feel close to history and part of the inevitable evolution of life. I think about the work I want to make before I die. I think about the symbolic hourglass and the sands of time.....how do I want to spend the remaining years, months, weeks, days, hours....?

I had an chance to visit the very famous Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah a little over a week ago. I want to share some of the hundreds of photos I took. Hopefully, others will feel a kindred spirit with my curiosity and affection for these special places/special tombs....for these personal thoughts about art and life. How can I stitch my emotions? How can I leave a mark/thread that will touch someone yet to be born?

All the statues stare into space...not into ones eyes. Many point a path to the sky, to heaven, to some uncharted location. All of the carved figures seem to know something special.

(Click on any image to enlarge.)

(I shot well over 300 images in less than an hour and a half....which is saying quite a lot. Each depression of the shutter somehow felt like an intrusion....a disturbance of the peace and quiet of the cemetery. I felt as if one foot was in heaven and the other trying to blog about the trip!)

(Above: A metal entrance in juxtaposition with live, draping Spanish moss. Click on images to enlarge.)



I posted images of a recently completed quilt in my new Grave Rubbings series. Someone reading in Australia wrote to me about Our Darling Sons. I wrote back. She wrote again. I wrote back again....This is just one of the wonderful things about a CYBER community!

I got to think about her reactions. I got to participate in an exchange of ideas and emotions. She made me think! (I spent a lot of time thinking....it was a GOOD thing!) She wondered how people who had lost a child might feel if encountering my quilts...quilts that clearly expressed the grief of burying a child. PS...thank you for starting this significant thought process!

(Click on image above: Carved floral arrangement on a grave at Bonaventure Cemetery.)
I know that my Grave Rubbing Quilt series is "going somewhere". I just don't know the location. I'm stitching....stitching like mad! I feel a peaceful calm about the series....something that tells me to keep working....the reason will make itself clear in time!

3 comments:

Colorfuldayz said...

Thanks so much for posting your photos! I lived in Savannah for a couple of years and when I was in a great need for serenity and beauty I used to go and wander around Bonaventure. I still miss it. Going there is truly a spiritual experience.

Guzzisue said...

So glad that I'm not the only person fascinated by graveyards, used them as a design source a few years ago. We have a wonderful one in nottingham but you may find this interesting http://www.highgatecemetery.org.uk/
I hope to visit next time I go to London

Julie said...

I like to walk around graveyards too and read all the dedications and wonder at the lives that have gone before. They are always peaceful places to my mind.