Sunday, June 24, 2012


La Virgen de la Soledad home altar at the studio of Josefina Aguilar
in Ocotlan, Oaxaca pictured in the three photos below

This was my second trip to visit the Aguilar ceramic studio, and the second time I have photographed one of their beautiful home altars. Below are images of the Aquilar's ofrendas that I documented the year before.

Día de los Muertos Ofrenda. I love all of the baby Jesuses dressed in their knit caps.

A cross made of rose petals lies on the floor
creating a path to the Aguilar's ofrenda pictured above

At another Aguilar family studio in Ocotlan, this life-sized 
Día de los Muertos Ofrenda is more like a theatrical stage set

Photo of an altar to the Santo Nino
in the Ocotlan Church, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Josefina Aguilar and her family are world-renowned ceramicists from Ocotlan in the State of Oaxaca. Their figurines are in the collection of every important collector of Mexican folk art. I was lucky to visit their studio on two different trips to Oaxaca. What is most memorable to me are the beautiful home altars set up in the courtyard where the family all work on their individual creations. The Santo Nino altar with the miniature marigolds is the most beautiful altar I have ever photographed in Colonial Mexico.

This is my June 24 offering to Rebecca Brooks for her Sundays of sharing Postcards from Paradise. Please stop by and visit all of the wonderful posts by Rebecca's talented friends and followers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Photos by Laurie Beth Zuckerman
Cemetery images are my thing, when it comes to photography. (And altars, churches, roadside shrines, etc.) I have been taking photos in graveyards since I graduated from college. Originally I ventured into the two pioneer graveyards in Eugene, Oregon to study the wild and cultivated flowers, and then later on to paint watercolors while I was in graduate school at the university. I got hooked immediately and have been visiting cemeteries everywhere I have traveled since, accumulating hundreds of photos which I regularly browse through for inspiration. Few of my images actually make it into frames, except when I am having an exhibit of my artwork, as these photos go so well with my home altars and installations. More of them make their way into Powerpoint lectures I give at museums, libraries, or universities, especially for Día de los Muertos. The best photos will eventually make their way into self-published books that I have been working on for the past several years. There are so many that I cherish.

The first photo above is a digital composite using a grave from New Mexico and "inserting" an image of a Madonna from Colonial Mexico to appear behind the glass of this shallow nicho. The second image uses the same grave "window" and displays an image I photographed in an old roadside chapel nearby in Northern New Mexico. I love this image because of the bird especially. It is from an image on a processional banner that I have never seen elsewhere. I assume this is the boy Jesus. A Mexican tile picture of the Santo Nino de Atocha is mounted on the outside of the chapel. The photos below show this chapel in La Manga. I felt so lucky to photograph this church altar and study all of the popular Catholic images and statues honored in this chapel.

Please visit my dear friend, Rebecca Brooks at Recuerda Mi Corazon for her weekly "Postcards from Paradise" postings by artists from around the world.

Processional banner in La Manga Chapel
Processional banner sits at the altar of the chapel
A view of the whole tiny chapel
La Manga Chapel, Northern New Mexico

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Durango, Colorado Cemetery grave cherub

Laurie Beth Zuckerman shares some of her favorite cherub photographs from Hispanic cemeteries around the Southwest. The image is an infant's head with upturned angel wings. A popular Catholic image, the term cherub was also mentioned multiple times in the Hebrew Bible. These cherubs are made of metal or plaster casts that are applied to the gravestone and then heavily painted, and even repainted. I have found this image in Texas, Arizona, and Southern Colorado. I don't seem to have any of them from New Mexico, strangely.

Recuerda Mi Corazon is the blog to visit to share in all of these "Postcards from Paradise."

Alpine, Texas cemetery grave cherub

Alamosa, Colorado cemetery cherub

Alamosa, Colorado cemetery cherub

Nogales, Arizona cemetery grave angel.
The letters  GR stand for "Gracias reciber" in Spanish
or in English "Thanks-receiving."

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Laurie Zuckerman's shrine to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a riot of color
in the springtime thanks to my husband's diligent xeriscaping.
The path to Laurie's garage studio winds past this antique German crucifix,
my most precious backyard possession and largest crucifix I have collected.
Exuberant Scarlet Gilia framing the view of my cross from my patio chair.
Rusted cast iron cross with crucifix
Cast iron cross with crucifix detail

The garage studio's side is lined with wooden crosses rescued from graveyard trash heaps.
Shadows are cast from the trellis made with wood rescued from an old dairy farm.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's back garden is as much a sanctuary as her home full of altars. Over the past eleven years, my husband and I have collected a few simple pieces to grace our xeriscape garden. Prior to our efforts, the yard had been a lawn since the house was built in 1933. Tom has transformed the entire yard into a botanical desert wonderland. I spend a lot of time admiring and photographing the ebb and flow of our xeric plants. I hope you enjoy this peek into my private life and my reverence for Catholic statuary.

You may also enjoy my earlier blog post of Madonna Shrines in my backyard.

Please visit this post and many others at Postcards from Paradise with my dear friend, Rebecca Brooks' site: Recuerda Mi Corazon.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's old headless Madonna rests against the old sandstone fireplace

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's cherished collection of old Madonna and Angel statuary add a sense of spirituality to her backyard sanctuary in Fort Collins, Colorado. Two are headless and defaced, but all of them are beautiful to me. I find them so soothing to live with! The time of year, the weather, and the blooming plants in our water-wise xeriscape garden change the mood of these statues daily. 

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's old crusty Madonna from Santa Fe

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's crusty Madonna with a giant Salsify seed head
Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madonna and Angel stand watch over the pond

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's crusty Madonna guards her waterlily pond 2011

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's photo of Madonna and Angel with irises May 2012

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's view of the turtle pond from her office window

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's turtle pond and giant red penstemons

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's photo of headless ceramic Madonna
inside homemade alabaster shrine carved by her husband, Tom Mathies