18 August 2013
I received some great questions this week regarding the Stone Angel photography show now hanging at Oakeside in Bloomfield NJ.
The questions centered around the symbolism present in the depiction of the angels. A friend who had attended the show noticed that a significant number of the angels had their hands clasped together and placed them to their right side. While clasped hands usually signals devotion, I wasn’t sure what the significance might be of the hands resting on the right side of the angel. I’ve done a small amount of research – ok mostly Wikipedia – on the right side, right hand of god, etc. and the entry for the right hand of God mentions that in the Bible to “be at the right side is to be identified as being in the special place of honor.” In many Christian faiths, Jesus is also represented as sitting at the right hand of God. In that vein, it is possible that the angels’ hands on the right side are in honor of these traditions.
There also was a question on the symbolism present in a specific piece in the show – #13 Angel Triad. This angel photograph was taken last year in West Orange NJ.
These three angels are part of an impressive monument in Rosedale Cemetery which was beautifully sculpted and then rendered in bronze. I was able to identify the different symbols used in the piece after a little bit of internet research. Here is what I found – the center angel is holding a lamp with a flame (an eternal flame) representing the immortality of the soul. The angel on the right side is holding a wheat strand and a cornucopia full of fruits and vegetables. Both items are indicative of the divine harvest. The third angel (completing the triad) situated on the left is holding a staff and what I believe to be lilies. I found that the staff is a sign of comfort to the mourning and the lilies symbolize purity.
The entire exchange on the symbolism present in these angels was fascinating and allowed me to dig even deeper into the beauty of these artworks.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the show yet, don’t worry because there is still time. The stone angel photographs will continue to be on display till the end of the month.