Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Laurie Zuckerman just returned from her latest photograph journey to the mission churches and cemeteries in West Texas. Despite the 400-year history of Spanish and Indian settlement along thie Mission Trail in El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, I found the churches to be much less decorative and distinctive than the churches in Northern New Mexico. The oldest of the churches is in Juarez, but it was closed the day I walked across the border. Had to settle for some beer and guacamole and helado on a stick.

As far as the cemeteries in this region, I was even more disappointed. The graves were not particularly unique from a folk art standpoint and the level of vandalism was the worst I have ever witnessed. I managed to get just a few photographs of any note. The most unique cemeteries were actually far afield in the towns of Terlingua, Lajitas, and Study Butte, all neighboring Big Bend National Park. The Terlingua ghost town cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and was truly decrepit, but the locals tell me it is cleaned up and decorated annually for the Day of the Dead.

Also took the tour in Marfa of Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation, and decided once and for all that minimalism is not my game. I did appreciate, from a found object assemblage standpoint, John Chamberlain's junked car part sculptures. Marfa, Texas may be the up and coming "Santa Fe" of West Texas, but it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.


Laurie Zuckerman was invited to speak on Memory Jugs for the Remarkable Women Series sponsored by A Place for Every Woman's Spirituality in Fort Collins, Colorado. The well-attended lecture was held on April 4th. Since there is so little known about folk art memory jugs, I concentrated on my personal history with making memory jugs and memorial jugs. I plan to offer a workshop through this women's center later this spring or summer.

"Laurie Zuckerman constructs enigmatic memory jugs from antique and vintage found objects. She has conducted memory jug workshops at the Loveland Art Museum and the Artists' Nook in Fort Collins. she has exhibited her altar installations, memory jugs, and shrine photography since the mid-1990's, at the Elmhurst Art Museum in Chicago, the University of Northern Colorado, the Loveland Art Museum, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Durango Arts Center.

"Memory jugs, an American vernacular folk craft from the Victorian era, are believed to honor the dead with personal tokens once belonging to the deceased -- shells, jewelry, toys, buttons, beads, etc. Some art historians propose that memory jugs are linked to Southern African-American funerary traditions, and may have been used to decorate their gravesites.

"Laurie's memory jugs appear in the 2008 book by Lynne Perella: Art Making Collections and Obsessions (Quarry Publishers). In 1999, Laurie was included, along with 99 other woman altarmakers, in a book by Kay Turner, A Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars.

"Laurie was born in Los Angeles and received her B.A. in Fine Arts from the U. of California, Berkeley; and her B.F.A. in Painting from the U. of Oregon. She is a painting and drawing instructor at Front Range Community College, and lectures publicly on altarmaking to universities, colleges, museums, galleries, libraries, and arts organizations."