Female Nude Nymph Angel
Throughout history, female nudes have been used in cemetery/memorial art. For a deeper examination, visit northstargallery.com/pages/Sensualilty.htm
Many images in this set were taken inside Forest Lawn Memorial Park's (California, USA) Great Mausoleum.
The general public is not allowed to enjoy these and many other works of art in the Great Mausoleum. Entry is granted only to those able to afford the high price of admission and their living family members.
I turned the door handle of the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California, USA and as the heavy door opened, I entered another world.
The massive, cathedral-like structure houses not only the remains of thousands able to afford the lofty ticket price for admission, it houses beautiful works of art. Sculptures, stained glass windows and ceilings, elegant marble throughout and massive architecture...all are off limits to the general public.
I didn't know at the time I turned that door knob, that Forest Lawn is consumed about keeping this structure and its contents strictly away from public view. I was simply a guy trying to take photos I like who quickly realized the challenges posed in this setting. I was simply on quest that began at the cemetery where my Mom and brother were buried almost twenty years ago.
One can attend a viewing of a stained glass window, The Last Supper, but, I've since returned (hoping to share with my family the splendor within) asking to enter the mausoleum. We were turned away. Forest Lawn's policy strictly prohibits entry to the general public.
Why? One would think that Forest Lawn (and its founder Mr. Eaton and its longtime and current President and CEO, John Llewellyn, would want to share with the wider world, the beauty contained within given the frequent ugliness which hits us in daily life...providing a form of comfort which is their business.
Forest Lawn loves attention but only on their terms. It thrives being known as the Disneyland of death services (and I mean that in the most respectful way ...after all, Walt Disney himself chose Forest Lawn) and hundreds of the famous and infamous call Forest Lawn home.
It is obvious Forest Lawn takes its mission seriously and provides a needed service exhibiting the highest levels of excellence from its impeccable grounds, to fine facilities and attentive staff.
Forest Lawn's theatrical stagings for adults and school children, its public art, museum and grounds filled with celebrities and movers and shakers, convey a seemingly mixed message when it comes to excluding the public from the massive amounts of great art held within the Great Mausoleum.
Why the exclusion? Staffing its maze of halls isn't a concern; staff members are everywhere throughout the park. Security? Sure it's in a bad neighborhood. But, as I wandered unknowingly in this remarkable place from which I was supposed to be excluded, I never saw graffiti...even in the restroom.
In fact, I never saw another soul (sorry, no pun intended). And, that, to me, is sad.
As I wandered, I was challenged by low light, by my impulse to rush my hand held shots since I had a vague gut feeling I was alone, but not; that someone was about to find me taking photos in a place where I was the forbidden invader...the only one...alive...appreciating fine art. Certainly, those entombed can not enjoy it.
Mr. Llewellyn, please open the doors to the Great Mausoleum for the public and the profound and positive impact its will have on us.
Mr. Llewellyn, I extend this offer:
if you have looked at my photos and they have spoken to you, please contact me. I will offer my photographic services to Forest Lawn to use in ways upon which we can agree.
The possibilities are limitless:
I can photographically catalog all of Forest Lawn's art at all its properties; the images could be published in many forms...books, dvd sets, and more; guided tours; respectful events built around the art and the images; museum exhibits.
Again, the possibilities are limitless and all can be accomplished in good taste equal to your mission statement and still be respectful of your residents and their families and, serve to educate and benefit the larger public.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND:
Many years ago after burying my mother and brother within days of the other, I was wandering their cemetery pondering and was intrigued by the statues I saw.
I was taken by the artist's talent in being able to capture the female form (since that was all the cemetery had). The sculptor's manipulation of the viewer's perceptions...cloth and how it draped, creating muscle tone, emotions displayed in facial expressions, all created from stone, piqued my interest.
I began an informal quest to research and find as many sculptures and to photograph them which overwhelmingly depicted the female nude (or partially so) in the cemetery/memorial setting.
As my cemetery visits grew, I began to realize that many of the sculptures seemingly evoked a sensuality in this form of memorial art.
Here, then, is my photos...a project in evolution...the female form as portrayed in an often sensual manner in memorial art.