Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Laurie Zuckerman is thrilled to learn when people discover her memory jugs and altars in Lynne Perrella's last two books, Art Making, Collections, and Obsessions and Art Making and Studio Spaces. I feel so fortunate to be included in Ms. Perrella's surveys of contemporary mixed-media artists, and for being such a great believer in my work and my artistic life.

The other day Lynne Perrella sent me a note and included this thanks for participating in her Studio Spaces book:

"Most of all, thanks for the opportunity to show your environment to the world. Needless to say, it is completely unlike any other space on the planet. Special, unique, soul-ful, and rare."

If you have never seen Lynne's sumptuous books, than you will want to check them out at your local bookstore or on

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


$3810 raised by April 25, 2010!!!

Laurie Zuckerman created a special shrine to be auctioned off to benefit the Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots organization. My warment thanks to all my dear friends who bid on my shrine, and a big congratulations to my old friends, Pamela Wright and David Hausam for winning my auction. And thanks to all the 200 or so people who took their time to view my offering.

My friend, Rebecca Brooks, sponsors this "cigar box shrine" auction out of the goodness of her huge, generous heart. Please log on to Rebecca's website (above) to preview the entries from the many talented mixed-media artists from around the county. Don't miss my friends Laurie Mika's and Lisa Jones-Moore's lovely shrines. These are real keepers! In fact I just purchased Lisa Jones-Moore's shrine, so that my own donation well help the street children of Oaxaca.

"My Hat is Off to You, Old Mexico" 
Laurie Zuckerman 2010

"My Hat is Off to You, Old Mexico" shrine is an assemblage of vintage Mexican folk art and images contained in a rustic wooden R.J. Reynolds tobacco plug box from North Carolina. This table-top shrine measures 16.5" tall, 5.5" deep, 7" wide when closed, and 14" wide when opened, and is quite heavy. 

The face of the shrine features vintage postcard images of courting couples dressed in the traditional clothes on the watchful guardianship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pictures are secured in a hand-carved wooden frame decorated with two sombreros, one wooden, one velvet. When the box is unlatched, the shrine reveals two more nostalgic postcard images of men and woman in sombreros; an El Moro cigar box graphic label and box top; a hand-painted castanet; and period jewelry. A pair of vintage "china poblano" girl and "charro" boy dolls nestle together inside the right half of the shrine, dressed in comparable garb to the adults in the vintage pictures. A hand-painted scenic plaque sets the stage of rural Mexico. The back of the box reveals more sides of the deconstructed El Moro cigar box.

These classic composition dolls, with their serapes, sombreros, and glittered skirts, represent a bygone era of Mexican handmade folk art, now supplanted by commercially-made plastic goods, often from China. This is a reality Laurie mourns and has attempted to recreate the nostalgia of "Old Mexico" in this shrine. "My mission has always been to rescue, preserve, and pay homage to the handmade folk arts of Mexico, especially her religious folk art. All of the items used in this shrine come from my personal collection of vintage Mexican memorabilia. Over the past twenty-five years, my flea market scrounging has unearthed dozens of orphaned Mexican dolls and abandoned tourist mementos." Laurie employs these works of the hand and the heart in her Diá de los Muertos ofrenda installations and personal home altars she exhibits in museums and galleries around the United States.


In her home in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Laurie Zuckerman has shoehorned more than four-dozen altars, ranging from room-sized installations to tiny forget-me-not tins. Despite their advancing ages, many begun in the early '90s, Laurie declares, “My altars are never finished. Altars are intended to be altered, to evolve with life’s persistent passages.”

Laurie Zuckerman is an enigma. A self-proclaimed “altar junkie,” her altar-making addiction is not based on her personal religious or cultural beliefs. A second-generation American, born of Ashkenazi descent, Laurie was raised a free-thinking Jew. Despite a twenty-five year love affair with altars, sparked by photographic visits to Mexican and Peruvian churches and cemeteries during the mid-80s, she remains surprised by her compulsion to create sorrow-laden Catholic shrines. Intrigued by all manner of Hispanic devotional shrines: home altars, El Diá de los Muertos ofrendas, roadside sanctuaries, church altars, and folk-art cemetery memorials, Laurie is equally awed by Haitian and American Vodou altars and other spiritual art forms resulting from the African diaspora. She melds these traditions into her own eclectic altar installations. 

After a successful, and very public, painting career in Seattle, Laurie's 1992 move to the rural anonymity of Blacksburg, Virginia unleashed her practice of this private, uncommercial art form. Her first altar began as a place to house her collection of antique Mexican santos and crucifixes. Laurie's modus operandi: training her keen eye on the flea markets, thrift stores, and low-end antique malls she scours for authentic folk art and other "altar-worthy" objects. Laurie's motto: “more is more.” Her altars and memory jugs are the perfect vehicles for Laurie's her lush array of visual excess. Each has evolved into more than the sum of their myriad parts. Their gestalt of the mysterious realm between the spiritual and the objective world, is what becomes the essence of Laurie's memorial work.

"Memento Mori: Deconstructing the Nuclear Family," was Laurie Zuckerman’s most recent solo exhibition at the  Loveland Museum/Gallery in Northern Colorado. Her exhibit of home altars, memory jugs, and forget-me-not tins boxes, showcased works that pays homage to her deceased parents, George and Blanche Zuckerman, her cousin, Donna Zuckerman, and their family housekeeper, Anne Dooley. 

Altars eventually eclipsed Laurie's life-long interest in painting and drawing, which felt two-dimensionally constrained, although she adores teaching painting and drawing at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado. Laurie is a graduate of art from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed graduate studies in painting and in teaching at the University of Oregon.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Laurie Zuckerman traveled to San Miguel de Allende back in 2005, during the festival of El Dia de los Muertos. I am finally posting a few of my favorite photos of the Madonnas and Jesuses from the exquisite historic churches. Above is the village of Atotonilco, known for their penitente-style of worship. Here are three examples of their richly colored altars honoring the suffering  of Christ.


Laurie Zuckerman visited the Charco Botanical Garden in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, back in 2006, and photographed this towering cross and sacred heart structure left over from the Holy Cross festival. It is made by the indigenous Indians in the state of Guanajuato from the Dasylirion plant, known as the cucharilla. In a future post, I will share more examples of this religious folk art used as cemetery wreath decorations in the cemeteries around Guanajuato. The plant dries well. The wreath I bought is still holding up well, and I have used it in several Day of the Dead shrines.