Photographs of funerary still lifes

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The Necropolis portfolio consists of photographs made in cemeteries in New Orleans. They are not intended to be depressing or maudlin but records of expressions of the living as we attempt to understand one of the ultimate mysteries that confront us. The respect for the dead and the subsequent development of funerary rites is one of the oldest civilized activities. Therefore,  funerary rites have a great deal of cultural inertia associated with them. The inertia pulls long and old cultural historical roots forward and presents them to us in a more obvious way than we can see in other places.

The ethnic roots of New Orleans are quite different from the rest of the United States. The main cultural currents for the rest of us are primarily Northern European and Protestant. Even if an individual is neither Northern European nor Protestant this is the primary cultural milieu for most of the rest of America. Not so New Orleans; here the diverse influences of French, Catholic, Acadian, Creole, Spanish, Caribbean, and African sources make the Crescent City is a unique place in the country and the world. The cultural inertia shows more complexity in New Orleans because it is such a melting pot.

Although the photographs capture the cultural roots, in the end they are records of deeply personal expressions at a time of a great deal of personal stress. The crypts, urns, flowers, and other funerary ornaments are generally chosen by the survivors who loved the person entombed. The gravesites express, in ways not generally seen, the combination of the individual and the trail of their ethnic history that follow them back through their time and culture. The photographs are a distillation of the past into a present moment.