Collected Bones: Collages in Gravestone, Relic, & Bark
Collected Bones:Collages in Gravestone, Relic, and Bark

Exhibit: Freeport Maine Public Library, March 2010.

“Collected Bones: Collages in Gravestone, Relic and Bark” is a poetic and photographic Tombstone Art project. The purpose is to eulogize, elegize and interpret the lives and poetry of over 175 American poets. Tombstone art is a photographic combination of the techniques of Cristo and Jeanne-Claude, traditional African burial customs, literary criticism, collage, and performance art, where the gravesite is the canvas for an artistic interpretation of the poet’s life, death, and collected works.

Most of the pictures were taken by Walter Skold during a 90-day journey to the graves of 150 American poets from May to August, 2009. Mr. Skold, a Freeport resident, founded the Dead Poets Society of America ( in 2008

In Tombstone Art the place of burial becomes the setting for a collage, or still life, that is arranged using volumes of poetry, relics related to the poet, and/or the natural elements found at the gravesite. It can be an historical re-creation or interpretation of a poet’s life or death, which is captured on print or video images, and is often a spontaneous improvisation instigated by the surroundings of the gravesite. Sometimes it becomes a re-arrangement of the words and letters on a tombstone, so that the words suggest new or focused meanings.

Thematically, the series of photographs investigates various literary, theological and cultural issues. More specifically, the project seeks to explore: the poet’s personal response to the death of others and his or her poetry related to death; documentation of the continuing American elegy as a genre; symbolic re-creations of a poet’s death; and/or a poet’s theological or philosophical views on the afterlife.

One of the underlying questions the series explores is how both poet’s legacy and gravesite may relate to his or her “body of works,” or “collected poems.” In short, their mortal, or is it immortal, remains.
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