Have you noticed?! Its a new year, there is a new series here: Graveyard Art and there is a new author joining this blog, mentioned above. That’s right, Debbi Decker, a friend I made in 2012. So, let me introduce you to her, her graveyard art and our story behind:
Graveyard Art on ImagesByCW
Since cemeteries and graveyard art in particular is a big and complex subject, in each post of this series, Debbi will answer 2 or 3 question, plus explain to us a couple of commonly found graveyard art symbols. So, be sure to check back or subscribe (click) here to be notified by email. If you have questions with reference to graveyard art, please ask in the comments and we’ll be happy to include them in a future post. To start us off, three basic questions.
Why do you visit graveyards? What about ghosts and hauntings? Do you believe?
Here is my story: I never really had any special connection to cemeteries, in fact I hardly ever visited any. Then Debbi came along this past year and I saw all the beautiful graveyard art she captured. And I am interested in art. Plus I needed subjects/objects that I could try my Christmas presents (new camera and lens) on. Have you realized how beautifully decorated some of the old monuments or headstones in the old part of your local cemetery are? And how they differ? Going through different parts of cemeteries is like a walk through a museum or the old part of towns where you admire the old architecture. You will find that through the centuries ornaments and decorations in graveyards changed, too, in order to resemble the beliefs, art, fashion of that particular time. To me, that is graveyard art. As for ghosts and hauntings…? I am scared already! I don’t think I’d ever go to a cemetery after dark. Do I believe… well, it doesn’t hurt to be open to possibilities, right?!
Debbi also is an artist selling her creations on Etsy. Once you enter her shop twistedpixelstudio you will dwell in pictures of parts of graveyards made into fine art prints, cards, jewelry and more. She lived abroad for a while, also in Germany, and currently resides in an old house in Virginia.
This is Debbi’s story: As a child, it was the creepy factor that attracted me to cemeteries. I grew up watching those old black and white monster movies that almost always featured a spooky graveyard. But somewhere along the line I discovered the artistic, architectural, and language that they contain. Graveyard Art. If you take the time to do the research, you can actually discern a great deal about the people who are buried, the era they lived in and a great deal more just by looking at the way the stone is carved, how it is built, etc. As far as hauntings go, I leave that part up to the visitor. But I do believe. The little iron fences you see around some of the plots are there as a way to mark the real estate so to speak. But, there are those who believe that iron has great power over the restless dead and that iron fence will keep the spirit contained within.
Is there an etiquette for cemeteries? Or for taking photos there? How about walking over someones grave?
There is no real etiquette other than to be respectful. Cemeteries can be fragile environments, especially in the older ones. Stones and ironwork age, and the ground can shift. Taking care not to lean on monuments and to not try to move the metal gates and ironwork. As far a walking over a grave? Aside from the various superstitions regarding this, it can be difficult not to walk over a grave. Because over time, the land can shift and the stones can disappear or even sink right into the earth. I do not worry too much about this aspect as it is unavoidable. The Victorians who created and designed many of the older cemeteries in the U.S. considered these spaces to be sacred, yes, but they also wanted them to be places that people could feel comfortable visiting. Children played in them, and picnics spread out over a loved ones grave were common. Some would even place a bench right over the grave itself so the visitor would have a place to sit when visiting!
Do you look for specific things when you visit a graveyard? Is there a way to find a specific grave? Do maps exist?
Many of the historical cemeteries do have information and maps regarding the inhabitants and the best place to begin for this information is to contact the caretakers of the cemeteries. Internet searches can also give you a great deal of information due to the huge popularity of genealogy research. You can start by searching the name and location of the particular cemetery you are interested in and go from there. Your searches should also give you the contact information regarding the caretakers too.
Interpreting graveyard art symbols:
Lambs are generally used on the graves of children to denote innocence. It is also a Christian reference to the “Lamb of God”.
That’s it for part I of our Graveyard Art series. What do you think? Something missing that you would like to add? Or do you have questions? Please ask them in the comments below and we’ll try and answer them and possibly include them in a future post.
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