Wednesday, March 13, 2019

LAURIE BETH ZUCKERMAN'S MEMORY JUGS BOOK: Instructions on how to make a folk art memory jug, memory jar, or memory vessel

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's book, MEMORY JUGS: Images, Instructions, and Theories is a complete resource on how to make a memory jug, memory jar, memory bottle, memory vase, memoryware, pique assiette, and other forms of memory vessels. This "workshop in a book" provides step-by-step instructions of traditional and contemporary techniques on how to make a memory jug. Laurie has been creating memory jugs commemorating her own life and the lives of her parents since 2001. Color photos of Laurie's memory jugs are included in this 255-page publication.

Laurie's MEMORY JUGS book includes an extensive photo gallery of antique and vintage memory jugs, which she has edited and compiled and from museum websites, galleries, private collectors, and auction websites. This book also includes historical discussions about this enigmatic folk art tradition associated with African-American funeral customs, Victorian mourning practices, and American Outsider Art. Found-object assemblage artists, mosaic artists, and art teachers from across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, have benefited from Laurie's book. 

Artist Laurie Beth Zuckerman specializes in making vintage found-object assemblage memory jugs, home altars, and altar installations for exhibitions in museums, universities, and galleries

Click on this link to view Laurie's portfolio website:


Click on Laurie's Paypal link to send your $20 payment:

Laurie will email you the Dropbox sharing link to her pdf file within 24 hours after receiving your Paypal payment. You do not need your own Dropbox account to access this pdf book.

Please email your questions to Laurie:

Receive a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the Memory Jugs Book.


Laurie's memory jug and altar creations have been profiled in artist/author Lynne Perrella's two recent books, Art Making, Collections, and Obsessions, and Art Making and Studio Spaces.  

Laurie's MEMORY JUGS book was featured in Antiques and Collecting Magazine's article on memory jugs, by David McCormick, February 2011. 

Laurie's photos of her memory jugs were presented to the Society for Mosaic Artists (SAMA) annual conference in Detroit in May 2017.

Below are sample page spreads from Laurie's Memory Jugs Book:


"I found your memory jugs on Pinterest and I am glad I did—not only for the inspiration, but to make sure I take it in my own direction. You are the Queen of the genre!"

"When I made that memory jug... I received a kind comment from Laurie Beth Zuckerman... It was a pleasant surprise as I instantly recognized Laurie's name from my initial discovery of these fantastic folk art objects. I'd even put together a little sheet of her jugs, which I printed out and it sits just above my Mac. She makes beautiful memory jugs, do check them out. Anyway, it put Laurie back on my radar and I saw she had a book available to buy on her blog, $20, so I did..... and it's FANTASTIC!! I highly recommend buying a copy. Not only is there a great selection of images, jugs both historical and those made by Laurie herself, but there's also a wealth of information from the history of these jugs to how to make your very own (mine was a rather scattershot approach in comparison!!) Here are just a few examples of what you will find if you wisely buy a copy. Laurie kindly gave me permission to use some of her images on here. Beautiful aren't they? I'm looking forward to making my next one now!" Garrett Life Blog

"Fantastic book, I really appreciate how generous you are in sharing your experience with memory jugs and in depth technique. Looking forward to putting into practice what I've learned from you."

"Your wonderful book arrived today, and I have stayed up 'til 2:30AM reading it! (I only meant to take a quick look, but couldn't stop!) What a great resource! You must have worked hard to assemble all this information, instructions, and great photos of so many kinds of memory jugs, and it was well written too! I'm off to bed now, but I will be coming back to read and re-read."

"I just wanted to thank you for the book. I've been studying it for hours. You are a very generous artist. It is full of great information with thorough instructions that will help me develop my own Memory pieces. The photos of vintage and contemporary work are a treasure. Your pieces are spectacular. Rich design and so full of depth and meaning."

"Thank you so much for the book. I really enjoyed it and was very inspired by the examples. I found it full of great information, from the interesting ideas on history, to the how to section and list of traditional objects. I was mostly excited by the lovely photos, I haven't been able to find many examples of old jugs so they are great reference material for me and I liked how you categorized them. I will recommend the book on my site to anyone interested in making a jug or wanting more information on them."

"I love love love your book!!! Thank you so much. Very inspirational and thank you for the instructions. I have not gotten started yet but am looking forward to starting soon. I can see that preplanning is a good idea. I have looked at memory jugs for years and wondered how on earth they were made. I knew it had to be pretty simple materials as they didn't have all the fancy epoxies that we have today. Your book really helped clear up the mystery. Your memory jugs are fabulous!!!"

"Received your CD book in the mail. Love it! Such a wonderful collection of photos of memory jugs, including our inspiration piece that we saw on the Antiques Roadshow a few years ago, "The Thing"! So neat to see a picture of it in your book! We were so ready to start our project, that we finished it in one evening. The pieces had been sitting on the kitchen table for two weeks! We are happy with the final results."

"I got your book/CD in the mail and can't take my eyes off the screen. What a terrific job you did with this book and how generous you are to share all of those tips. I cannot WAIT to get to the store and buy the supplies and start exploring. I had no idea that there were others out there who shared my passion, my fascination with memory jugs…and more."

"Received your CD and I really loved it. Wow, what beautiful imagery and I enjoyed the history and deeper meaning of these vessels. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing not only the imagery of the Memory Jug but getting a deeper understanding of the symbolism and the creative process in regards to making them. It was very inspiring to me."

"Wow. I just discovered your incredible art and ordered your CD book. I cannot WAIT to get it. I've been making mosaic structures for years, but have been frustrated with my inability to find a putty, as was used years ago in making memory jars. I hope you have the answer in your book. Can't wait to see more of your work, too!"

"I just got my CD from Laurie Zuckerman. It's a fabulous book that gives the history and shows all the different types of jugs, vases, bowls, that people have covered with trinkets of their lives. Laurie is a fabulous artist. Check out her altars and memory jugs. If you love folk art or Mexican art like me, you'll love her art."

"I watched—read LOL your CD last night and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. It is a very unique and informative way to present the memory jugs and its relations. I can’t wait to share it with my friends. Your hard work and love for the art form shows in the presentation. It was well worth the $20."

"I love the CD!! I just got home from vacation and have piles of laundry and other unpacking to do, but…had to pop in CD…and couldn't stop!! It's very inspiring and informative. Several points you made hadn't occurred to me. It was well worth the selling price. I am sure I will refer to it over and over."

"I wanted to tell you how much I love the memory jug book. These objects have always moved me somehow and to see such an array is just unbelievably compelling. I have to admit, I love yours the best! ALL of your pieces are somehow so haunting and complex and memorable. Thanks for such a treat!"

"I finally got to check out the CD. I am VERY happy with it. All the wonderful photos of different types of memory art. My favorite in the book is the one you did in memory of your father. Unbelieveably beautiful. I now can't wait to get started on my first one. Your book helped so much."

"I am just overwhelmed by the Memory Jars CD. It is the most comprehensive and inclusive work on them that I have ever encountered. I am so grateful to have found your website, and thrilled to have ordered the CD."

"I received the CD yesterday and watched it through with great interest (avid, I should say). I am very impressed by your scholarship, your collections, and–of course–the memory jugs themselves."

"I got your CD in the mail this week and have spent some time today looking it over.  It's a wonderful art history book. The history is so interesting and important to know before embarking on a project."

"It's arrived!... and it's FANTASTIC!!... better than I even expected... and I expected it to be really good!! Thank you!"

"What an amazing art form you have taught to others. As far as memory preservation, it beats scrapbooking any day!!!"

"The cd is full of all the information one needs to make these crazy folksy works of art. I bought and love it. BUY it!"

"I purchased your CD recently from ebay...OMG I love it!!!! Can not wait to try one on my own."

"Received the CD and have only had time to skim it, but my initial reaction is (and you may quote me) 

"OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG! The photographs alone were enough to make me hyperventilate."

"Your jugs are more authentic and thought-provoking than other modern ones I have seen."

"AWESOME e-book I can't wait to make one. GREAT CD and PICS. Thanks so much!!"

"I am enjoying the CD so much. There is a wealth of information on it. Thank you!"

"Your CD is very inspiring! You have lots of great information in your CD."

"Wow… Your work blows my socks off! Very excited to order your book."

"A - Z, useful source of info for memory ware and related folk art."

"I am in awe of what you create. I would like to order your CD."

"Excellent resource and thanks for all the examples pictured."

"Just a note to say that I LOVE the book! It is beautiful."

"Love the CD, would love to take your class."

"Very informative!! Wonderful images!"

"LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!"

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's drawing, Madre Dolorosa: Spanish Veil, was selected for the juried LATINO EXPRESSIONS exhibition at the Lincoln Center this winter in Fort Collins, Colorado. Latino artists from Colorado included: Francisco Castro, Manuel Cordero, Arturo Garcia, Ismael Lozano, Alejandra Lujan, Silvia Montero, Tony Ortega, Daniel Salazar, Carlos Santistevan, Frank Zamora, and guest awards juror Carlos Fresquez. I was most honored to have one of my new drawings exhibited alongside of these well-known artists, santeros, and arts educators from Denver, Colorado.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa: Spanish Veil drawing on left wall


Guest awards juror from Denver, Carlos Fresquez had his work exhibited
in the Latino Expressions exhibition at the Lincoln Center Gallery


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa: Spanish Veil graphite drawings

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa drawings on right-hand wall
Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa drawings on right-hand wall

Ancestors and Heritage exhibit banner displaying Laurie Beth Zuckerman's
Madre Dolorosa drawing, hangs outside the Artworks Loveland Gallery

Artist Laurie Beth Zuckerman was invited by Artworks Loveland to exhibit her drawings in their Ancestors and Heritage: Resonations of Día de Los Muertos exhibition, which opened November 13 in Northern Colorado. Three of my 22"x30" graphite pencil drawings from the "Madre Dolorosa: Spanish Veil" series were on exhibit in the south gallery through December 4.

The exhibition banner hanging on the outside of Artworks Loveland, announcement promotions, and gallery website featured one of my Spanish Veil drawings.

My exhibit statement read: 

"Laurie Beth Zuckerman's intricate graphite drawings on paper describe her treasured cast-iron Madonna, drawn from the still-life. Laurie drawings seek to capture the solemn grief of La Madre Dolorosa, drawn from her antique cast-iron statue, which is the Mother of Sorrows figurehead of her altar installation, “Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady.” The Catholic mourning veil references the 1918 influenza pandemic, commonly called "The Spanish Lady." Laurie’s grandmother, Sarah Zuckerman lost her six-year-old daughter Elizabeth to this disease, went mad with despair, abandoned her husband and sons for two years, and never again spoke of her little girl. Laurie’s father George Zuckerman had no memories of his sister, but did recall the horrific wailing of his mother. Laurie’s middle name, Beth, is an homage to Elizabeth."

Last fall I featured this Madonna bust in my altar installation, Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady, at my Memory: Loss and Found exhibit at the Boulder Dairy Center for the Arts. She was also the figurehead of my earlier Madre Dolorosa installation at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center honoring my grandmother, Sarah Melnick Zuckerman.

The Ancestors and Heritage exhibition included works by 14 artists who each have private studios at Artworks Loveland exciting new complex of workspaces and galleries in Historic Downtown Loveland.

Artworks Loveland is located at 310 N. Railroad Avenue, Loveland, Colorado, 970-663-5555.

More information about the exhibit can be found at:

Friday, October 16, 2015


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's completed installation of her "The Girl I Left Behind" dollhouse altar at Lola's Fresh Patina Gallery, Loveland, Colorado 2015, for their "Storytellers" Day of the Dead exhibit.

Here's a little more detail in this shot showing some of the antique photos in my dollhouse altar.

Laurie Zuckerman sets up her dollhouse altar at Lola's Fresh Patina gallery as part of the "Storytellers" Day of the Dead exhibit. The altar is in honor of Zuckerman's mom, who died from ovarian cancer in 2001. Copyright: Jessica Benes, reporter for Arts/Entertainment Spotlight, Longmont Times-Call, October 2015.

[Laurie Beth Zuckerman was interviewed by reporter, Jessica Benes at Lola's Fresh Patina in LovelandThis post is excerpted from Benes' Longmont Times-Call and Loveland Reporter-Herald article for Arts/Entertainment Spotlight, October 15, 2015.]

Laurie Zuckerman tucks a black Victorian shawl around the dark wood of the altar. She drapes rosary beads so that they lie in front, a wooden cross just touching the base of the altar. Zuckerman has been designing altars since her mother was stricken with ovarian cancer about 1999.

"It was right after my dad passed away, and once I learned she had ovarian cancer, I knew she wasn't going to make it most likely," Zuckerman said recently while designing the altar at Lola's Fresh Patina in Loveland
After her mother got sick, Zuckerman said, she started collecting old Victorian tintypes, particularly of children.
"I knew I was going to lose my mother and it felt like I was losing my childhood," the Fort Collins resident said.
Zuckerman was attracted to how angelic and innocent they were and wondered what happened to them.
"There's something nostalgic about all these Victorian photographs. Those are some of the first studio photographs that were made," Zuckerman said. "I want to give a sense that these are sort of lost children. Maybe they lost their mother like I was going to lose mine."
She collects baby shoes and women's gloves and childhood dolls, as well as Mexican ornaments and shawls.
"It just helped me to soothe the little girl in me that was about to be an orphan," she said. The "dollhouse" series of altars she started with after her mother's death in 2001 has expanded into larger altars.

Zuckerman doesn't consider herself to be "dark" — she simply is interested in the Victorian era of mourning, the way children and people were immortalized in old photography.

"I knew I was going to miss her before she was even gone and then I missed her so much. I didn't have anyone to nurture me anymore, so I kind of nurtured myself by making these altars," Zuckerman said.
She has displayed her altars at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in the past and even built a large altar at Virginia Tech in 2008 for its Day of the Dead celebration, a year after the shooting that occurred there.

For a little more background on this altar, here is my exhibit statement:

"The Girl I Left Behind," from my series of “dollhouse” altars, showcases Victorian photography and dolls, religious figurines, and miniature paraphernalia, displayed in stacked wooden boxes, shrouded in mourning shawls. They were begun in 2001 during the final months of my mother’s losing battle with ovarian cancer. In nervous anxious anticipation of becoming “orphaned,” I was drawn to collecting Victorian photographs of “angelic” girls. This altar houses cabinet cards, carte vistas, and tintypes of stoic young girls, each hardened “old souls."

Blanche Kleid Zuckerman died in June 2001 and the altar memorials began pouring out of me from grief and loneliness. First the dollhouses, then home altars, then memory jugs, and finally the room-size installations, all in honor of my mother. Fourteen years later, my mother is still the primary focus of my altar work, which expanded in scope to include other Russian-Jewish relatives who were mothers. The Mother of Sorrows–La Madre Dolorosa–is the overriding theme I continue to explore.


[Jules Gillen, Lola's Fresh Patina gallery director, was also interviewed by reporter, Jessica Benes for this article.]
Lola's Patina is hosting a Day of the Dead exhibit, "Storytellers," through November 7, 2015.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated Nov. 1 throughout Latin America and many other countries to honor and remember loved ones who have died.
"It's traditionally a Mexican holiday," said Julie Gillen, Lola's Fresh Patina gallery director. "Now more cultures celebrate it, so we're coming at it from a different perspective using storytelling as a way of remembrance and celebration."
She said the event will include pieces from more than 10 local artists, as well as a community altar where community members can include their own pieces as a remembrance.

"It's important to celebrate where you came from and where you're going," Gillen said. "It's an amazingly beautiful way to share with other people your histories about Loveland.

"Maybe you have a grandmother or grandfather that you didn't get to know so by installing that altar you get to pull things out and share with your other family members and friends."
She said the imagery of skeletons as used for Day of the Dead are not like the scary Halloween images.
"They're always happy, they're laughing, a celebration," Gillen said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Support Local Culture is sponsored by Noosa Yogurt. Each week KRFC radio station in Fort Collins airs interviews with Northern Colorado artists. This week KRFC is airing Laurie Beth Zuckerman's interview with Michelle Venus, and tastefully edited by Ric Reed. You can listen to Laurie's October 2015 interview at this KRFC radio link:

You can also visit KRFC's website directly to see samples of Laurie's artwork and read her biography at this link:

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Tarnished Angels memory jug is on exhibit in the fifth Annual Contemporary Art Survey show at the Lincoln Center Art Galleries. It is such an honor to be selected for this national competition by Guest Juror, Dean Sobel, Executive Director of the fabulous Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado. This is also the second year I have had my memory jugs selected for these national juried exhibitions at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Annual Contemporary Art Survey offers a thought-provoking and eclectic array of painting, sculpture, fiber art, photography, mixed media, and installations. The exhibition is meant to be a survey—an overview of contemporary art across the country. 34 artists from 15 states were chosen from more than 600 works of art by artists in 30 states, including 7 from Fort Collins and Masonville. The exhibit opened on Friday, August 28 with an excellent gallery lecture by Dean Sobel, and a packed artists' reception.

The legendary exhibition designer, Jack Curfman, arranged this show and gave me a personal tour of his curating philosophy after I had completed installing my memory jug. I had been fortunate to work with Jack last year at the Global Village International Museum in Fort Collins on an exhibit of vintage Mexican Folk Art, where I created a large altar installation of antique Mexican dolls and saltillos. Jack assigned me a very nice space in the front area of the Lincoln Center Art Gallery for my memory jug. Below are exhibition photos from different vantage points in this beautiful glass-enclosed gallery run by Jeanne Shoaff.

The Annual Contemporary Art Survey exhibition will close October 10, 2015. Stop by if you are in Fort Collins!

Fort Collins artists Jennifer Davey (middle), Anne Bossert (right), 
and Joe Coca (third from right) have their artwork shown in my photo above.

Lincoln Center Art Gallery, shown above, is open Tuesdays-Saturdays: 12-6pm. Free admission. 
Galleries are open most evenings during the center's music and theater performances.  
417 West Magnolia Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521, (970) 416-2737

Friday, December 5, 2014

LAURIE BETH ZUCKERMAN'S BLACK MADONNA ALTAR INSTALLATION at Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts during Día de los Muertos

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa altar installation
at the Boulder Dairy Center for the Arts 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's altar exhibition at the Boulder Dairy Center for the Arts was on display from October 15-November 4, 2014. Here are a few closeup photographs from my Black Madonna altar installation, Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady. I dedicated this altar to my grandmother, Sara Melnik Zuckerman and her six-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Zuckerman, who died in the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, in Brooklyn, New York. The entire altar is built from antique furniture, Victorian mourning apparel, vintage pottery from Mexico, and a multitude of other old objects collected in antique store, flea markets and thrift shops around the country.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa Altar

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa Altar

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa altar installation
in her exhibition at the Boulder Dairy Center for the Arts,
entitled Memory: Loss and Found

Please see my earlier post Assemblage artists Laurie Beth Zuckerman and Susan Wechsler.html for more photos from our two-person exhibition at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado, in October-November, 2014.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

LAURIE BETH ZUCKERMAN EXHIBITS SHADOWBOX ALTARS at the Historic Carnegie Building's Community Creative Center, Vivid Conversations Show, November 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Nuestra Senora del Monte Carmelo,
shadowbox altar, 2001-2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Nuestra Senora del Monte Carmelo,
shadowbox altar, 2001-2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's shadowbox dollhouse altars were on display in the "Vivid Conversations" exhibition at the Historic Carnegie Building's Community Creative Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. This November 2014 show was curated by artist Lili Francuz, who invited ten local artists to be included. Each artist was given their own wall and I displayed several new altars.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Nuestra Senora de la Soledad altar 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Breaking the Mold I
dollhouse altar 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Breaking the Mold II
dollhouse altar 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
shadowbox altar 2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's The Girl I Left Behind
dollhouse altar 2009/2014

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's exhibit of shadowboxes and dollhouse altars
at the Community Creative Center in the Historic Carnegie Building

My husband, Thomas Mathies, also exhibited his religious folk art crucifixes in this exhibition. Carved from tree roots and painted with traditional gesso and egg tempera, Tom's work looked spectacular in this historic building. Below are a few photos of his display.

Installation photo of Vivid Conversations exhibition in November 2014
at the Historic Carnegie Building's Community Creative Center in Fort Collins.
My husband, Thomas Mathies' crucifixes are hanging in the rear of this photo.

Installation photo of Vivid Conversations exhibition in November 2014
at the Historic Carnegie Building's Community Creative Center in Fort Collins.
My husband, Thomas Mathies' wooden crucifixes are hanging in this photo.
The wooden altar nicho, with a statue of Saint Francis, at the right of the upper photo were both built and carved by Tom, and painted by Laurie Beth Zuckerman.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady" installation
includes three altars and three memory jugs at The Dairy Center of the Arts

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Memory: Loss and Found altar installations
at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady
altar installation center closeup, Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder, Co.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Memory: Loss and Found installation
at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's Memory: Loss and Found installation
at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Bella Donna" altar installation at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Bella Donna" altar installation at The Dairy Center.
Donna Zuckerman is pictured on her wedding day with her husband,  Irving Stone.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "The Tarnished Angels"
altar installation at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady"
altar installation, grandma's empty rocking chair and suitcases at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady"
altar installation with "Locked Away" memory jug at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady"
altar installation with "The Bell Jar" memory jug at The Dairy Center
Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady"
altar installation with "Locked Away" and "The Bell Jar"
memory jugs at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's "Behind the Eight Ball" memory jug
made in 2003 is included in her altar installation at The Dairy Center

Laurie Beth Zuckerman's altar exhibition at The Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder is entitled, "Memory: Loss and Found." This is a joint exhibition with my dear friend, mosaic artist Susan Wechsler of Boulder County, Colorado. Susan and I collaborated in her Longmont studio last year, sharing each others personal techniques and artistic sensibilities with found-object assemblage. We have planned this exhibition since March 2013, each creating new works expressly for our theme and The Dairy Center venue. Our exhibition is unique and outstanding, and I am grateful to Susan for suggesting this joint venture. Few other artists are as obsessive and meticulous about their artwork as we are.

Susan and I define ourselves as Jewish altar makers. Our eclectic shrines and memorials reflect our own family traditions and life experiences, and are informed by diverse cultural heritages from around the world. We both honor memory in order to evoke spirituality in our work, share a mutual love of collecting and flea marketing, and incorporate vintage materials into our found-object assemblage shrines.

Our exhibition title, "Memory: Loss and Found" plays with grammar to make a point. Both of us have created works that reflect "losses" we have experienced, and to make a statement about what is "found" by examination of and reflection upon memory. Some observers may reflect that the found objects and personal items used in our works are imbued with the energy and spirit of those who once possessed these things. My altars are constructed primarily from antique Victorian mourning paraphernalia, Mexican black clay folk art from Oaxaca, and a host of vintage collectibles.

I made these Madre Dolorosa altars and memory jugs in remembrance of my Russian-Jewish ancestors and their tragic life stories, which have colored my life with a somber gloom. This black cloud has hovered over me as long as I can remember. My altars are manifestations of these family legacies, told to me by my storytelling father, Hollywood screenwriter and novelist, George Zuckerman. My father used words meant for moving images or the printed page to tell his stories. I use historical objects in a physical manner to express my own take on these deeply personal stories. I aim for a visual shock and awe reaction from my viewers—I want people to feel my work in their gut.

My "Madre Dolorosa: The Spanish Lady" altar installation includes three individual altars, plus a rocking chair display. This suite honors the sadness my Grandmother Sarah Melnik Zuckerman, and her only daughter, my Great Aunt Elizabeth Zuckerman, who died at the age of six during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, aka "The Spanish Lady." Sarah lost her mind, fled home, and lived away for two years, abandoning her three sons, the youngest of whom was my two-year-old father. My father named me Beth, out of respect for his older sister, Elizabeth. It would have been too much for my Grandmother Sarah, if my parents had named me Elizabeth.

My "Madre Dolorosa" installation includes a suite of three memory jugs, two of which honor the massacre of nearly thirty Melnik/Zuckerman relatives during the Nazi invasion of Poland in July 1941. Their titles are "Behind the Eight Ball" and "The Bell Jar." The third memory jug, "Locked Away" honors the memories of her lost daughter that were locked in my grandmother's fragile mind, and remained secret from her four surviving sons. My teenage father did not know he had a sister until he discovered a trunk of Elizabeth's belongings in the attic.

My "Bella Donna" altar installation honors my first cousin, Donna Zuckerman and her new husband, Irving Stone, who died in a single car crash on their honeymoon to Canada. They were buried one week after their nuptials in Brooklyn, New York, 1973. I was not in attendance for either life-altering event, but my brother, Gregg Zuckerman was. I was living across the country in Eugene, Oregon. I had just graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and arrived in Eugene just days before Donna and Irv passed away. My sense of hopefulness for life and happily ever after died the day my mother called to relay the devastating news. 

All three of my altar installations and four memory jugs in this exhibit are a part of my Memento Mori series. Memento Mori is a Latin phrase for “be mindful of death" that can also be interpreted as “remember that you are mortal.” Memento Mori refers to the historic genre of artistic creations in European funereal art, cemetery tombstones, and architecture, and include the Mexican El Día de los Muertos imagery used on ofrenda altars. Our exhibit was scheduled to coincide with El Día de los Muertos, and will close after the holiday on November 4.

To see an earlier installation of my Madre Dolorosa Altar that I exhibited in 2012 at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center in Colorado, click on this blogpost.

Laurie Beth Zuckerman (left) and Susan Wechsler (right)
congratulate each other on their exhibit at the Dairy Center for the Arts

Susan Wechsler (left) and Laurie Beth Zuckerman (right)
at the Dairy Center on opening night

For more information about Laurie Zuckerman and Susan Wechsler's exhibition, please log onto The Dairy Center for the Arts for show times and dates. Please visit artist, Susan Wechsler at her website and blog: