Monday, July 1, 2013

Saints and Shrines

I guess you could say I've grown up around them, these tiny shrines, old chalk statues with candles at their base, roses and quiet spaces. My grandma had a few very simple ones in her bedroom. The one I remember most was her statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that hung on the wall right next to her bed, just as it hangs on my Moms wall today.There was another one, on her nightstand with her Santo Nino(Infant of Prague) draped in her well used rosary. That one is in my home today.

 As I've mentioned before, I love tiny spaces and things to put things in. Having created many a matchbox nicho, mini gourd or pocketwatch case filled with tiny objects I'm drawn to these small creative spaces that have the power to evoke memory and spirit. 

This past week I was lucky to be able to take a wonderful trip to see my sweet friend in Huntsville AL. I hadn't been out there in more than five years, way too long. We filled our days with thrift store shopping, walks, and visits to all those little places she's told me about in letters, emails and texts. One of our favorite places,one we visit everytime I'm there, is a wonderful spot in Cullman, about 50 miles south of Huntsville, called the Ave Maria Grotto.  Located on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey, this Catholic monastery was founded in 1891. On the grounds of this magical place are 125 miniature reproductions of bibilcal scenes and famous buildings of the world. Brother Joseph Zoettl (1878-1961) first began his creations as a hobby, but as more and more people began to hear about and then come to visit the abbey and grotto he eventually produced more than 5000 small grottos. Many have been sold, but an awesome collection is here. Even though this is my fourth time visiting I always take pictures, and am continually inspired by these amazing works of art. I always leave wanting to rush home to fill my yard with miniature scenes, tiny shrines, and grottos. Here's a few of my favorite ones, but please know these pics hardly do them justice.

I love how he'd use everyday objects like cold cream jars, shells, marbles and broken jewelry to adorn his creations. He was truly reusing and recycling with found objects way before it was cool to do so! 

Noah's Ark

This is the main grotto and not in miniature at all.
It's built into a large cave,
which stands 27 ft high , 27 feet wide and 27 ft deep.
It bears the namesake of the grounds as
The Ave Maria Grotto.
Love the use of seashells and marbles here.

This is one of the very symetrical mosaic style

The Wayside Shrine


Love the use of painted filigrees

 Hansel and Gretel Visit the temple of the Fairies

Grotto of St. Theresa, "The Little Flower"
I made a few cards with a similar image I photographed in black
and white with my old school Canon a few years back on my first visit.
 It's still among my favorites.


Austin Luna said...

Nice! Ave Maria Grotto looks like an interesting place to visit. Great pics.

Healing Woman said...

I love shrines. Somehow you don't think of them in Alabama! I viewed so many amazing ones in Mexico and in Europe but the ones at the Ave Maria Grotto are especially magical. My grandmother kept rosaries everywhere and now I have a Santos doll (one that I made) that I placed on my dresser with all sorts of shrine type items.

Love this post. Thank you.