Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day: Reverse Storytelling Installations

I know I'm not alone in finding idle wanders through old cemeteries an evocative delight. Over here is a man who emigrated from Scotland and traveled to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Over there is a couple who lost three young children, all under the age of four. 

This Father's Day I decided to do a cemetery wander and create little mystery tableaus to provoke the imagination of fellow cemetery wanderers and commemorate the graves of men who may or may not have been fathers.

The first step: collecting odds and ends from around my studio. When I stopped for lunch on the way to the cemetery and opened my handbag, I realized what I had created was a crazy lady's pocketbook.

Crazy lady's pocketbook

And here are the graves, located in diverse settings at the Piedmont Cemetery in Oakland.

For Thomas Turnbull who died in 1887 at age 39: a teacup.

For George Ayer, who died in 1873 at age 60: an armless figurine of a girl.

For Christopher Appleton, who died in 1860 at age 72: a child's shoe.

For Isaac Wallace, who died in 1872 at age 53: a teddy bear leg.

For Marius Widemann, who died in 1877 at age 43: a toy soldier.

And finally, though he didn't live long enough to become a father or even reach puberty, there is little George Fox, to whom I gave a toy car because I thought it was the sort of thing a nine-year-old ghost would enjoy.

For George Fox, who died in 1879 at age 9: a toy truck

Here's hoping the dead enjoy the gifts, and the cemetery wanderers come up with some fanciful explanations for the objects on the graves.

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