15 August 2013
I started photographing these stone angels about three years ago. Another hobby of mine is genealogy and family history, which I began over ten years ago. While researching for one’s roots you are invariably led to a cemetery or two or three… As I have family buried in Essex County and surrounding counties, I have visited many of these cemeteries. Almost every time there were one or two angels that I was really struck by – either the intricacy of its carving or the expression on its face or even its overall composition. So in between walking the rows searching for and documenting the final resting places of my relatives, I would capture an angel here and an angel there. Before I knew it the collection was growing.
Once it started to develop and I had decided that I wanted to create a series of angels, I became more focused on how I wanted to represent them. Typically cemetery angels and cemetery monuments are shown amongst the many other monuments and stones surrounding them. I didn’t want that effect for this series . I made a concerted effort to capture each one on its own – recognizing it as an individual artistic piece. I felt this allowed the angels to be appreciated for what it was and allowed the viewer to focus on each angel’s unique attributes.
I also decided from a visual standpoint that black & white was the right choice for these pictures. Viewing the images you can easily see that black & white lends itself to stone monuments and specifically angels.
Over a three year period the angel collection continued to grow in proportion to my genealogy excursions. Eventually I decided that it was time to exhibit these images and share them with others. The first step was of course to review everything I shot and narrow them down to the best of the best. Pouring over each of the images I started to develop a new appreciation for them beyond just the artistry. I had to remind myself that they also served an important function for those who commissioned them and placed them at their relatives’ graves. They were there to watch over them and ensure they were Never Alone. This later realization is what inspired the title of the show.
The exhibit at Oakeside is now the culmination of those three years of searching for, photographing, living with and contemplating the nature of these Angels.