There is so much buried in our surroundings that will only found by digging below the surface of first impressions.
I did not realize when I first took the photo I called “Broken Cupid” that this marble cherub on the portico of Hampton Mansion was actually created to represent a child of the slave-holding Ridgely family. I discovered this weeks after I finished the photo composition “In the End” with its plaintive and foreboding Latin inscription: Periturus sum, “I shall perish”.
Awhile back I published a photograph I called “White Madonna”, which shows another statue from Hampton Mansion, a mother and child in marble that stands on the east portico. I now know that this statue is a portrait of a Ridgely woman and her child, the same child represented by the Cherub on the west-facing portico.
I explore the notion of ill-gotten ephemera, material goods that will ultimately fade away no matter what financial or moral price has been paid for them, and that all of that is moot because we are ephemeral ourselves. That notion sometimes has me overwhelmed in churning, ruminating disbelief.
But it seems a completely new level of this exploration when I find that what has been bought with human lives is the graven image of the self, an enslaved family’s own ephemeral physical forms deified in marble.