Spontaneous Shrines

"We who build shrines and construct public altars or parade with photographs of the deceased will not allow you to write off victims as regrettable statistics…They are, I believe, the voice of the people." –Jack Santino

Roadside to film to canvas – artwork and shrines of the Southwest

I’m back in my hometown of Riverside, California for the holidays and I’ve seen some unique roadside memorials along the highways.  There is a particularly vibrant shrine culture in Southern California and throughout the Southwest due in part to strong Catholic influences.  While I work on tracking down information about a few of these local memorials, I’ll share a site that I came across a while ago.

The people at Barhead Goose Studios drove from Cerrillos to Taos, New Mexico and recorded many of the roadside shrines along the way.  They use the Spanish term descansos meaning ‘resting places’ to describe the memorials.  Their photography is beautiful and captures some of the most exquisitely decorated shrines I’ve ever seen.  But the thing that caught my attention about their Descansos project was the series of gouache sketches they did of the shrines.  It is rare to find such evocative artwork of descansos.  Below is their video of the project which includes live footage of the shrines, their photos, and their drawings  which wonderfully illustrates the careful progression from roadside to film to canvas.

 

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