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Tears of Stone -- San Gabriel Mission, San Gabriel, Calif.
(Tears of Stone — San Gabriel Mission)

Seraphim with Mona Lisa smiles stand watch, their eyes downcast in sorrow or uplifted in hope.

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As I wander past these silent angels, I feel an overwhelming peace. Something draws me to them, and I search for the spirit that lives within each statue.

I think the sculpture above was created by a man who truly loved women. She is so sensuous and, well, just perfect.

Each figure determines its own artistic treatment — how it will be photographed and how the resulting image will be processed afterward. The final outcome is a collaboration between me and the sculptor.

The statues’ creators are long gone and probably long forgotten — but their art lives on in cemeteries around the world.

In the Bible, the word “angel” nearly always applies to heavenly beings. They are God’s messengers, working for Him and for the ultimate benefit of mankind. Perhaps that benevolent emotion is what pulls me in again and again.

Golden Angel -- Inglewood Park Cemetery.
Golden Angel — Inglewood Park Cemetery.

 

Silver Angel -- Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Calif.
Silver Angel — Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Calif.

My friend Alvin Valles, another angel photographer says, “Sooner or later everyone comes to the realization that the past is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope — comfortably faint and seemingly further away than it is.

“Photographing angels allows me to grasp on to that constant that has survived my past. The one thing I have been able to hold onto from my youth is an image from my catechism class of a lone angel overlooking a couple of children crossing a rickety old bridge.

In the Arms of an Angel -- Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.
In the Arms of an Angel — Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.

“Today I see that same angel as a guardian from this life into the next — standing bold over her charge as an unvarying reminder we may forget those who would otherwise be forgotten. They give life to a dreary cemetery. And to my imagination.”

Avenging Angel -- Calvary Cemetery.
Avenging Angel — Calvary Cemetery.

 

Timeless Angel -- Rand District Cemetery, Johannesburg, Calif.
Timeless Angel — Rand District Cemetery, Johannesburg, Calif.
Angel
One of a class of spiritual beings; a celestial attendant of God. In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders. From the highest to the lowest in rank, the orders are: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations or dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels.
Headless Cherub -- Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.
Headless Cherub — Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.

 

Rose Garland Angel -- Inglewood Park Cemetery.
Rose Garland Angel — Inglewood Park Cemetery.

 

guardians-of-the-soul
Guardians of the Soul — Inglewood Park Cemetery

You might also like this story by Lara Hartley:
Weep Not: Cemetery visitors celebrate life not death

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