Laurie Zuckerman's altars and memory jugs exhibition at the Loveland Museum—"Memento Mori: Deconstruction of the Nuclear Family," has received the following collection of gratifying compliments from old friends, local friends, art colleagues, and numerous people who do not know me or never saw my altar works before this exhibit. Thanks to all who have written with your generous reviews. I am most grateful for your support and your enthusiasm in spreading the word about my exhibit.
Maureen Corey, the museum's gallery curator stated, "People who love the work are extremely enthusiastic and inspired—it’s great to see."
"Laurie, it’s quite a challenge to sum up the visual, emotional, and conceptual qualities of your show in a succinct manner. Visually, it calls for a cornucopia of adjectives to describe the multi-faceted altars, memory jugs, and photos. Try luscious, subdued, encrusted, tactile, hot, cold, precise, artfully haphazard, expansive, and contained; to wit, a box of assorted chocolates—dark, white, and caramel, creamy, nutty, and fruit-filled. Color grabbed my attention first upon entering the museum. I found the dominant use of red in American Vodou to be discomfiting, as was the nature of the piece. Red persists in my memory as the visual bang of the show. Conversely, Black Panthers felt like a chilly confection with white-white frou-frou figures on the upper rungs in sharp contrast with the sleek black striding cats on the bottom, neither color a subtle choice, reflecting the intent. Emotionally, the show triggered the detritus of my own familial and cultural associations—those uncomfortable feelings that lurk just beneath the surface: discomfort, anger, guilt, grief, and sadness. Your father’s shoes peeking out from under his altar prompted a spine tingle, as if George Zuckerman had just kicked them off and would return—soon—to reclaim them. Standing outside the white picket fence that serves as a viewing barrier of American Vodou, I felt a different kind of horror, one induced by the preponderance of all those racist objects contrasted with the somber photos of actual African Americans. The work was troubling and enlightening both. Oh, but there was plenty of humor and joy, too, especially when I discerned your intended jokes. Conceptually, your work is so chock-a-block full of allusions that I was mentally pressed to make all the connections. Some were obvious (the large red spider straddling the mother figure on Blanche’s memory jug); others perplexed (I overlooked the connection between the donkey party game and Democrats). Next time—and I hope there is a next time—I’ll want a detailed sheet of references and a catalog that I can browse at leisure. In the words of Ed Sullivan, it was a really good show."
Today I’m going to see Laurie Zuckerman's presentation at the Loveland Museum/Gallery. Her memorial art is simply amazing! My favorite in this exhibit is “Red Scare” and the items she includes in this exhibit are astounding. The items evoke strong memories for me, and it was fun to see things I had – play ironing board and iron, fringed “Indian” vest, picture books, games, etc. How she sees potential these items as she collects them, and then arranges them in such organized profusion is simply amazing. Laurie was scheduled to speak last Thursday, but got snowed out. I hope the turnout today is good. This artist deserves the kudo of attendance! She’ll have my presence as a thank you present for the gift she gave our community in this exhibit. Sure hope she comes back again!
"Laurie's work: her altars and memory jugs are pieces that deserve a very wide audience because they are so beautiful and rich. I am so hoping to see them in the Santa Fe Art Museum or at the Smithsonian someday. These works are museum pieces without a doubt. The depth of beauty and thought are second to none, Laurie is a diva quality artist. Will someone who can put this work on a fabulous stage—or pedestal— please give her a call!!! I have watched the work evolve for at least 15 years. I can truthfully say Laurie's art work was born full grown, like Venus from the sea...it has always been stunning and rich, deep and dark, somber and humorous. This sort of multifaceted talent is rare...in Laurie Zuckerman it is the real deal. Rock on Laurie!!!"
"Last week I had the good fortune to go to the Loveland Museum (Colorado) to see Laurie Zuckerman’s altar show: Memento Mori and to hear her speak about it. Wow—it knocked my socks off!!! The altars are beautiful, disturbing, touching and sometimes funny!! Most of the altars are personal, domestic altars that Laurie lives with in her home. I was particularly touched by ”Donna’s Altar.” It is a memorial altar for Laurie’s closest cousin that died in a car accident just one week after her fairy-tale wedding and for the sister of her father that died in a flu epidemic. If you get a chance see the show!"
"I am so thrilled with the insightful review by Sarah Vaeth for Scene Magazine October 2009. She really "got it". The show was an amazing retrospective of work from the last 13 years. It is rich with Americana and personal history. You seem to be following in the footsteps of your screenwriter father, trading words for objects; you are a storyteller as big as a Hollywood screen, where intimate stories within a historical context resonate with universal truths. Keep up the good work Laurie!!"
"Your work is amazing. Your work really impacted me deeply—the ideologies and themes you express and write so eloquently about, the depth of insight, the color references and symbolism, the familial symbolism and congruency and your life being portrayed on so many levels in your work…fascinating! I spent hours looking at all the details in every work, on my knees even, to get every perspective. One could look for hours, with a magnifying glass even, and still not see all."
"I love that it is so personal. I first saw Laurie's work in Fort Collins and Loveland a few years ago and was really, really taken with it. Her attention to detail is amazing and each altar is just fun. Wait, can an altar to the dead really be considered fun? I think so, and beautiful and charming and joyful. Postpones that third death! This is the third or fourth exhibit of hers I have been able to see and each one is more intriguing than the next. Her memory jugs are pretty amazing, as well."
"Your show is reeling through my mind…so, so heartbreakingly beautiful. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of your altars; try to recall them in all their depth and detail. How I’d love to get inside each and crawl around looking at every object, they just beg to be touched and, treasured…such a fine cabinet of curiosities you assembled. Mind boggling, every detail begs a story."
"Your show was awesome, totally awesome. I hope that you'll find ways to market it for the next steps in your career. This is not just for you, but because it deserves to be seen, and will benefit people—the best sense of the value of art. It is also timely, in the same sense that the research I am doing is timely. It is a time to reconsider all those values. But additionally your show is beautiful, which makes it timeless."
"Your presentation last night was perfect. You give so much of yourself by your work and sharing your personal past stories. I know the altars are a story of your life but for you to take the visitors on the journey with you are so special for all in attendance. Every tiny figure that you use has a meaning. I love that about you and your talent. Enjoy the glory. You deserve every second of it."
"I wanted to write something different than anyone else had written, but I see than your art's effect on everyone is about the same - a bunch of people walking around with blown and bent minds that are awe inspired. I think your work is amazing! It's difficult to choose my favorite, but I like the memory jugs a lot. And the altars. And the tins and photos. Obviously, I am a fan."
"It is a truly amazing piece of work, not only each altar, photograph, tin box, memory vessel, but the whole museum installation itself also as an amazing work—the presentation-arrangement and how many long hours it took for you to install. I am very impressed, with this exhibit. Not only do I admire and love the work, but I feel a deep connection to it as well."
"Laurie, our friend came from Gunnison and I told him your show was a must see as he is an assemblage sculpture artist. Your show blew him away. He also was in awe of your talent and now he is a big fan. Way to go!"
"I spent several hours at your Loveland exhibition in awe of your incredible altars. You have an ingenious mind and a gentle heart, AND, I'm a little jealous about some of the lovely Mary pics you have on those altars! Thank you for your presence and the art that you gift us with."
"Your work is really incredible and my class will definitely appreciate seeing it. They will be very moved by what you've written and your images. Congratulations on your show—it must have been wonderful to share your work and touch many people!"
"Laurie Zuckerman's art exhibit at the Loveland Museum is absolutely wonderful! Her work is amazing, detailed and heart felt! She has created many large altars representing memorable times of her life. Plan to take some time to see this exhibit."
"Just wanted to thank you again for a wonderful day. It was great seeing the show.... just amazing! Incredible work...we definitely have a kindred spirit thing going with our world-views! Anyway, wishing you much success."
"I just saw your exhibition at the Loveland Museum and all I can say is WOW. So very cool. It pained me not to be able to take photos of it because there is SOOO much detail and I want to remember it all. It was fantastic!"
"This just sounds super, like some huge "happening" that validates all your years of creative work. I am so very proud of you, and I stand in for your parents who would be overwhelmed with happiness for your success."
"As promised, I wanted to thank you, again for your wonderful sentiments about family and relationships and passings in this life of process. Your show was/is just WONDERFUL. Thank you!!!"
"Your work is something that stayed with me days after the viewing. This means it works to touch deep into the silent space we all hold together—life, death and what we hold dear."
"It is breathtaking. Design was perfect and the quantity of objects is unbelievable. Congratulations. I am inspired to become more obsessive."
"I was blown away by your show; have e-mailed numerous friends telling them to run, not walk down to see it. It was beautiful; really touched an emotional chord in me- wow!!!!"
"Your art spoke to me. I will tell all my friends to go and I wish you much success! You are very talented and should be proud of yourself."
"You did a really great job and the show looks so polished and beautiful! You are gaining many fans! And you have earned them!"
"Your gallery talk, your 'being', your sharing was very meaningful and touching. The show is a knockout. Congratulations."
"Congratulations on yet another fantastic presentation! Your photographers were beautiful and your lecture was very informative."
"Laurie Zuckerman creates intricate, expansive, manic altars which spill out into the room, onto your feet."
"I can still see the shadows cast by the red aprons on the wall. I look forward to more time with the exhibit."
"I'm excited about your work, you have been true to your creative urges and that is certainly an endeavor."
"What an exciting exhibit! We are so fortunate to have an "artistic expert" such as yourself in our area!"
"The show was quite haunting…the images and the feelings it evoked really got under my skin."
"My friends really enjoyed the show and were totally impressed. Another friend loved everything."
"My friends really enjoyed the show and were totally impressed. Another friend loved everything."
"This will be an unforgettable memory for me! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK!"
"Your show is looking magnificent. Your installation is going to "Knock People OUT!"
"I just got back from viewing the exhibit a second time—so rich, so much to take in!"
"Congratulations on an absolutely stunning show, and incredible achievement!"
"Congratulations on your show. It is well-deserved and a long time coming."
"Your show and talent are awesome! I wish for you all great things."
"Congratulations for a stunning show that the world should see!"
"I am so proud of you! Enjoy your glory, well deserved."
"I LOVED your show and have told many to check it out."
"Congratulations on a magnificent exhibition."
"Provocative and awe-inspiring art exhibit."
"Provocative and awe-inspiring art exhibit."
"Amazing and Wonderful! Thank you!"
"Thank you for your fabulous work."
"It is amazing!"
I have had the most gratifying interactions with many of the attendees at my exhibit. Here are the many generous comments left for me in the museum's comments book and in the mailbox of my American Vodou altar installation:
"A friend told me to come and I came straight away. My mother, with whom I was very close, died unexpectedly last month, and I am opening to and exploring the portal into the mystery. She is my second parent to die. I will be on my way in four days back to her home in Wisconsin to be with my siblings and see what is next. I find myself sometimes with people who are dying or who have died, assisting in and witnessing the transition. Also, I grew u in Baltimore in the 1950s, secularly Jewish for the most part, with a Christmas tree, too, although my father had been (and sometimes still was) a learned Jewish scholar. I lived in Haiti in 1973 and was interested in the native religion. In Baltimore, we had a Black woman come in to do the ironing. My paternal grandmother had Black servants. My brother and I played with Crazy Ikes. As I prepare to begin going through my Mom's home of 40 years, simultaneously preparing to leave my home here in Loveland of 16 years, into the unknown, your exhibit is fascinating to me."
"Well, Laurie, after visiting here three times, I finally am able to write something down. While again looking at the Bella Donna altar and reading about it again, it brings me to tears and I feel a deep wrenching in my heart. I mentioned to you I have no emotional relationship to my deceased family. All six passed by the time I was 35. I am an orphan. I blocked it all out. But friendship is where I come alive and my heart has found healing to love again and be vulnerable again, and the loss that altar represents touches the cord of healthy grief that I am now able to feel and express. So other than the fact that I wish I had kept more of my family possessions so I could create something like you have, because I can deeply sense how much it might give me a connection to my mother and father. I also realize the balance and symmetry you create is a talent I possess myself, and visually it is profoundly satisfying to me. Thank you for expressing yourself."
"These altars are wonderful memorials. I am from England and I remember visiting the cottages in our village where many old ladies lived. They had small altars of memorabilia/photos of their husbands/sons who had lost their lives in the first World War. There old ladies were not particularly religious, but they said is was of great comfort to them to have their altars, as it made them feel connected. I love your exhibition and thank you for putting your altars on display."
"Hi Laurie—wow! The memories invoked—the journey—this has grown so much from what I last saw in your house. Too powerful for words! Love the historical-psychological-familial relationships and your written stories about them. The color significance, the emotions and thoughts so many of us must share regarding many of the ideologies and prejudices you bring to this work—the events and practices we grew up with (Duck and Cover). I truly enjoyed this and I look forward to your presentation."
"Moving. A window into not only your soul but the soul of America, humanity and the tragedy, horror, strangeness and peculiarities that follow. Most touching for me was the altar to Donna and Elizabeth [Zuckerman]. Really just provocative and sorrowful. My grandfather, who passed last year at the age of 94, was beset with the flu in 1918, as well. I remember him telling me how they lost so many, and he got by, by the skin of his teeth. Thanks."
"Laurie, thank you for sharing your altars. I love them! They are deep and warm and yummy. Thank you for validating my "junk collecting!" I am starting an altarpiece myself and will be so happy if it turns out even half as awesome and detailed as anyone of yours. Also I thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas and self with us while we were here. It's like we share the same brain! I adore your photography very much as well. Anyway, I could go on and on…"
"Thank you very much for contributing all of this marvelous work so people can see it. Your pieces have a lot to say and come off as passionate, powerful, and awe-inspiring. Each individual piece is very much representation of certain cultures and times. I will be sure to tell everyone I know to come see this. Also thank you very much for talking with me."
"These shrines have brought memories of my childhood, happy memories of play and friends. I grew up in the South and was touched by your "Mammy" shrine. For I too had a lady who ironed our clothes because my Mom worked. I called my Grandmother Mammy and my grandchildren call me Mammy. It means love and warmth to me. Thank you for this shrine."
"I love your creative vision and unique use and combination of objects. I can imagine you collecting, and also going through your parents' home. The placement in almost every piece is soothingly symmetrical and disturbing (although I think my favorite is your father's shoes at the foot of his altar.) thank you for the many layers and richness of your work."
“We three fiber artists have been mesmerized by your artful installation – your blissful hunt of all those stunning finds – equally phenomenal is your way of visually expressing the meaning behind each awesome installation… and the memory jars. Thank you! We will come again and bring others.”
"Laurie, I am glad I came. It was refreshing to see your art, and also to get a more personal feel for you. Seeing you as an artist outside of school, what you do for your work made me appreciate what you have us do in class. Thank you for suggesting this exhibit, I enjoyed every bit of it."
“Captivating! I made sure to take my time and even came back to re-admire my favs…especially the Black Panther Altar – it visually drew me in and kept me there for awhile. Thank you for your meticulous strength portrayed in each and every brilliant altar. Thank you!”
“I am writing a paper for my art appreciation class at Front Range Community College. Your installation was very interesting to look at and I noticed new elements even when I had thought I had seen everything.”
"Thank you so much for displaying all of these wonderful pieces of your life for us to view and appreciate. Each installation and altarpiece was so inspiring! My husband and I found ourselves captivated by the stories each of your works conveyed."
"This is my second time through the show and I'm still breathless. The amount of "stuff" is overwhelming (in a good way) but the depth of memory is inspiring. I'm hoping some of the obsession rubs off on me. Thank you."
“Wow Laurie – this is a beautiful show – the pieces really touch my heart and evoke so many memories. The textures, colors, shapes and figures are so gorgeous. I love your photos too – lovely. Thank you so much for sharing such personal pieces with us!!!”
"Laurie—Your depiction of thoughts, feelings, passion and grief are the most beautiful works I have ever seen. I am in awe of your work and hope that it is a catharsis for your soul. The colors and arrangements make everyday items strong and meaningful."
"Three friends, including self, have come to see your exhibit and seen through three different experiences! It's been wonderful. The layers of meaning, the presentation, the history, the cultural anthropology, the familial—very precious. Thanks Laurie."
“Laurie – Awesome – Loved it all. The photos of Mexico on the hallway walls are very moving. Where do you store all this- I thought I had too much stuff! All the installations are amazing, stunning. What a feat! Much success to you.”
"Evocative…nearly every installation had a piece (or more) that were like items in my grandmother's and mother's homes. Strong memories of a childhood of over 50 years ago. Your exhibit is forever imbedded in my heart, my mind, and my soul." A native Missourian.
"You're brilliant! It was nice meeting you again and feeling the energy of your work—impressive! I'll be back and bring my friends. It's very apt that your show is closing on El Diá de los Muertos—hmmm!!!Thank you so much."
"Your art is inspiring and I feel as though the love you have for your family, for art, and for American culture resonates with my own. As a fellow assemblage artist, I am amazed, delighted, and deeply moved. I hope to meet you in person!"
"As an artist of collage and boxes, I thought I had a lot of stuff, but you beat me by miles. I could stay here a week looking at your amazing work and still find more to look at. One of my favorite shows ever."
"Thank you for showing us the beauty of your art. This has touched me so much for so many reasons. I have come often to this show and leave each time feeling more spiritually renewed."
“Wonderful commentary on culture, oppression, and mass fear & normalization of a complex time in American history. I love the ancestor altars; wish we, as a culture would do this more. Thank you!”
“I love how personal your installations are… this extends through your viewers by the connections they can make with the individual objects as well as your themes of family. Incredible pieces!”
“Powerful. Important. History repeats unless we don’t forget. I threw away a mammy doll my mother-in-law had. Wonder if I should have kept it. Thanks.”
“Amazing. Sad. An eye feast. You have a very hard time letting go of emotional issues – but they are life-‘altering’ issues. Loved it.”
“Thank you for such an interesting, exciting show. The jugs are amazing me, installations are powerful.”
“This is a fantastic collection of memorabilia – put together in a satisfying yet disturbing display. It’s wonderful."
“What a knock-out exhibition – I could stand here all day studying what you have to tell me! Your work is amazing!”
“I was so excited to see you had this gorgeous display here at the museum. You taught me a few years ago at FRCC. I enjoyed this immensely! So nice to be reminded of you again.”
"There are not enough superlatives to describe this exhibit. Dramatic, authentic, thought provoking. Keep coming back, please!"
“This show is incredible – so moving, insightful & totally inspiring. So glad I found myself in town during the run of your show – pure serendipity."
“I loved this show, so unique, inspired, touching & thought provoking all at the same time! I would spend hours here if my little boy would let me! Hope all is well.”
"Your display or I should say magnificent art was amazing. I felt it deep within. Many of the works you have done was so creative is was breath-taking. Thank you for the experience!"
"I'm so lucky to have experienced this exhibit twice. I can't tell you how moving this all is. I will never forget this exhibit. Thank you so much."
"So glad I made it to your show. I'm inspired to create the altars to my parents that I've been wanting to make since they died. So good to meet you, too."
"What a great exhibit. I enjoyed it so much and felt so close to my Mother being here. What wonderful work. Thank you for sharing it with me."
"Thanks for inviting me to such a wonderful artist show. This art reminds me of my history and culture. Keep it up."
“Laurie, this is a delight to see your work. I didn’t imagine the lengths you have to go to, to produce such fascinating alters. My best to you.”
“Laurie, I think your parents would be proud of you. I recently suffered a tragic, shocking loss of a loved one and this was so very meaningful now. Thank you for the lovely work.”
"What an amazing, fascinating and thought-provoking exhibit—evoking emotions and pure incredulousness at all the detail that comprises the whole. Thank you, it's beautiful!"
“Laurie!! That was such an amazing show, every piece was so fascinating, a true pleasure to see, they were all so meaningful, deep and moving.”
“I was so moved by the collection. A native of Los Angeles, it returned me to Mexican soil, Jewish roots, and legacy. And the installation of the work is beautiful.”
"These pieces took me back to many childhood memories—good and bad. Stirred up more than I expected…Thank you!
"The impact is so tangible, pain, joy, memory, elation and fragility. Thank you for genuine expression of your true story."
"Incredible work! Takes us back to our Southwestern roots and the wonderful tradition of Diá de los Muertos."
"This is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking shows I have seen. Fantastic. Thank you."
"Wonderful encounter with my childhood and Catholicism. Thank you for sharing your creative élan!"
"Thank you, Laurie! What an honor to meet you and experience your amazing work."
"What an amazing exhibit—it brings back so many memories. So thought-provoking."
"This is a remarkable and thought-provoking exhibit. I am very glad we happened on it."
"Laurie, your creations speak to the soul! Your creativity speaks to the heart! Many thanks."
“It’s true! It is the best museum along the Front Range and probably some other ranges, too.”
“Wonderful, so spectacular from one artist, and I met her here at the museum. Very nice.”
"Amazing and totally interesting—the best part was to be able to visit with Laurie."
"Really enjoyed the entire show. I want to make a memory jug (or at least a bottle!)"
"Beautiful and soulful. Thank you for sharing such deep emotion. This is inspiring."
"All of the objects come together in such a beautiful way. Thank you for sharing."
“A wonderful visual treat! I love the folk art – political intersection. Powerful.”
“Blown away! The only way I can describe it. Looking forward to your book.”
“What a fantastic unique display of life as we’ve known it the past 50 years!”
“A visual feast for the eyes and the soul. The memory jars are fantastic."
"Wow!! Creative, inspiring, artistic, spiritual. What a wonderful collection."
"Amazing and sacred work—a gift for all of us who have loved and lost."
"Most enjoyable—some of the best art and displays I've every seen."
"Great show. Especially loved reading about each altar and shrine."
"Very interesting. I loved your show. I was here three different times."
"Congratulations on an amazing show. You are incredibly talented."
“A joyful explosion of images that stagger the imagination!”
“Laurie, wow!! I can’t believe it happened. Looks beautiful, moving.
“Laurie – Awesome, totally awesome leaves me speechless.”
"Very heartwarming and brings about many fond memories."
"I came just to see your work! VERY inspiring, love it."
"Merci et Thank you. Very beautiful and powerful."
“Enjoyed revisiting the 50s and 60s of my childhood.”
"Laurie—Weird, thought-provoking and wonderful."
“We really enjoyed your beautiful talent. Wow!”
"This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it!"
“Marvelous! A flashback for this 1950’s child!!
"Great Big Bravo! Amazing…simply amazing!"
"Laurie, as always so there and over the top!"
"Very powerful. Takes my breath away."
“This was the best art museum I’ve been to.”
"This was so much more than I expected."
"Very interesting and symbolic form of art."
"Incredible! Powerful messages. Wow!!!
"Loved the images and being drawn in."
"Two times viewing—enjoyed your work."
"Mouth-watering. Thank you!"
"Truly a beautiful nightmare!"
"Wonderful. Thank you."
"It's surprised me a lot!
"Very moving experience!"
“Very, very impressive!”
“Awesome! Thank you!”
"Great exhibit Laurie!
“So unique an exhibit!”
“This was fun.”
“I love the art.”
“These are cool.”
On September 16, 2009, I spoke to fifty 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who were on a field trip from Windsor Middle School to meet two "autonomous learners" at the Loveland Museum, curator, Tom Katsimpalis and myself. I received the following "Thanks for helping us enrich fertile minds" letters from the 6th Grade Autonomous Learners in Ruth Brunner's class.
"Dear Laurie Zuckerman, Thank you so much for showing us your amazing altars and telling us a little bit about yourself and your art. You altars are really amazing and creative. The memory jugs were really cool!"
"Dear Laurie Zuckerman, Thank you so much for the tours of your exhibits. You are very creative, unique, and autonomous. I really enjoyed the first altar with all the dolls. It was interesting that you used that lovely idea."
"Dear Ms. Zuckerman, Thank you for taking time to talk to us about your altars and memory jugs. Looking at your artwork helped me see an autonomous learner who is incredibly creative and patient. It must have taken a lot of time to get all of the items you need for your altars, and only an incredible and creative mind could come up with the perfect place and reason for all items and all altars and memory jugs. I hope I will be able to see more of your artwork in the future."
"Dear Laurie, Thank you so much for showing us your art. I thought that your pieces were amazing! I thought that you using all your pieces with red in it was very interesting."
"Dear Laurie, Thank you so much for sharing all of your altars with us. They were all so colorful and creative. I think it was cool that you did that exhibit on your Nanny."
"Dear Laurie, Thank you for teaching us about your altars. You are a very autonomous person. P.S. I think that you are autonomous because you can take on little thing and make it into something bigger."