It's funny how we all seem to go back to the well, the same well we have been going to since we picked up a pencil and started to draw or think about drawing. In this well are the personal favorite things...topics, images, techniques that are always there whenever a roadblock is there to start the cycle of thinking and wondering. This memento mori thing has been in my well...and never really been tapped the way I am beginning to wail on it. I have always been fascinated with the whole end of chapter thing..death, the death industry, architecture and art, history of traditions and expectations--almost exclusively western culture. I have read books on the subject --and devoured them. I learned to drive in a cemetery near my house as I feared the streets and figured the only people I could really kill were already dead in the Homewood Cemetery. My father was proudly on the board of the oldest cemetery in Pittsburgh, The Allegheny Cemetery, where we would regularly go a visit the family plots and marvel as the bizarre ways that people wanted to memorialize their lives and accomplishments. I love the monuments--particularly the high victorian ones and the family mausoleums. In the Allegheny Cemetery, there are miniature greek and roman temples, Richardson Romanesque bunkers and some beautifully rendered, high camp Egyptian pyramids with gilded and polychrome sandstone columns. There are urns on columns, of course the plethora of angels, even a stone tree with it's limbs sawn off (all sandstone) with the bark all carved with care, the the names in ovals where the limbs used to be saying "Mother", "Father", "Brother"...you get the idea. I love the lettering of any time, the older and odder the better. I love the shapes of the stones (again, the older the better).
Trips to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Philadelphia and Civil War Battlefields always promised a visit to the cemetery so see the illustrations, the shapes, the lettering the sites. It gave context to the antique. When I was in Italy for 4 months in college, I was taken to numerous cemetetaries--surprised by the above ground graves, the non-parklike settings we are so used to. I reveled in reliquaries and the bones in the cathedrals and churches. Bones in gilded boxes. Bones with fuffly, serious bows and ribbons. Carved stone bones as part of the decor of the spaces. This was a sensibility I couldn't wrap my mid-western head around...but loved. I don't know if I love it as much now...but the sheer oddity is appealing.
This is odd that this is what has leapt up out of the well for me. Maybe it's the contemplation I have been doing about being fifty (soon), maybe its spurred by the work the Avian Flu series promised, or maybe is a direct reaction to the work I have been focused on for my thesis...or at least maybe that reaction is the spur to try some new stuff and get it out. Having this lulu project has been the incentive. Whatever. You poor devils are going to see a bunch on this stuff (so much so, I have made a label for this sort of chat for the blog..so it's not going anywhere fast).
Off to Cornell this morning to talk with writers and lunch (a treat) with a very interesting scientist who is changing the world by his research and projects he has started that stemmed from his research and travels. The Trumansburg Fair continues. More rides for the teens...more hanging out in adolescent clusters. This is all very important to do.
Will update later.