The other side to Vermont marble is the magnificent monuments carved in it. In the old cemeteries of Vermont and New Hampshire you see the great skill of New England sculptors. It was for that reason that I was enticed to explore Manchester Vermont’s Delwood Cemetery, whose entrance is just adjacent to the entrance to Hildene House, the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln.
Ponder the meaning of a cemetery. Its essential message is dependent upon the religion that dominates. If it is a Christian cemetery the essential message is one of death and resurrection. You see a multitude of epitaphs affirming this poignant message. However, at Delwood I saw something that I thought was truly amazing, the expression of this sentiment strictly in image, an image carved in marble. It is part of a plot that is adorned by a wonderful angel carved in the classical style in marble by contemporary artist Fred X. Brownstein. On either side of the angel and close to the ground are two friezes carved in high relief. One shows great looming clouds and the second a curtain of light rays emerging from the clouds. I have taken closeups of these two tablets and reinterpreted them as Figure 1 and 2, which I call “Death” and Resurrection.”
Unusual for me is the use a blue tone. In analogue photography this would have been done with an iron salt. I experimented with many tonal variants, but concluded that this was just right for emphasizing the emerging light.
I think that there is a tremendous level of understanding and creativity associated with capsulizing the quintessential message of the cemetery in stone without words. It is a tribute to the power of image as meme. I think also that the choice of the clouds and the light is all the more powerful because in this Vermont valley, dense clouds hanging over and between the mountains is all around you as are the sudden ephemeral tricks of emergent light.