Monday, August 26, 2013

backyard madonnas

Growing up in a Polish/Ukrainian community south of Chicago in the 1950s I was continuously fascinated with the culture and folk art of lawn care and related decoration. Birdbaths, pink flamingos, mirror globes, whirligigs, plastic deer, lawn jockeys, birdhouses, statues of various saints, and bathtub Madonnas infused the front and backyards of my neighborhood with an atmosphere of the fantastic and the surreal. The backyard Madonnas were especially fascinating, as they seemed religiously serious, fantastically humorous, or surrealistically bizarre, depending on the other objects around it, the weather, or whatever else was going on in the yard (barbeque parties, lawn mowing, snow ball fights, a game of horseshoes, or croquet).
Between 1975 and 1987, I photographed a number of these Madonna environments in my old neighborhood and throughout the Midwest. I printed them to 16"x 20" on Kodak Polycontrast N surface paper, and hand colored them with Marshall's Photo Oils. There are over 100 prints in this ongoing series.