Yards of Faith
Living on the Somerville/Medford line, I have been fascinated by the statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and various saints that often decorate the yards in the neighborhood. In an era where one’s religious conviction is a private matter, I am drawn to these public proclamations of faith from a previous generation that is often the first on this side of the Atlantic. The shrines have been placed in commemoration of a loved one, of a promise made to God in a time of stress, or as a simple reminder of faith. Some of them are maintained with great care while others have fallen into neglect. They may be left behind to new owners that keep them in the yard out of respect or they disappear with a developer’s eye on modernizing.
In photographing these shrines, I have gained a connection to the neighborhood and its rich immigrant traditions.
When I moved to New England in 1997, I saw myself as a Midwesterner arriving in an unknown area. Twenty years later as I have researched my family history and its roots, I see the parallels with my Puritan ancestors who came to the same area with their version of utopia. Researching the history of those who share my DNA, I feel as if I am reaching back in time to discover their lives and histories. At the same time, I feel that they were reaching into the unknown future when they were leaving records, archives, and artifacts to be rediscovered at some undetermined future time. I am blessed and grateful that so many before me have done the immense amount of work creating these histories. Visiting the sites where they lived or worked centuries ago, I am moved to see the same sky, or the same ocean as they looked out on, and I strive to capture some of their essence that they have left behind.