Archive for May 6th, 2009

We were driving through Maryland last month when I happened to spot a construction site alongside the highway.  It took me a moment to realize that I was in fact looking at this–a “reconstruction” in progress of Noah’s ark.  I squealed with delight, and only wish I’d had the time (or the powers of persuasion to convince my husband) to stop.  I was similarly enchanted by spying Ohio’s Touchdown Jesus last summer. 

I’m completely infatuated with folk expressions of religion, the kitschier the better, and if they’re just hanging out there on the side of the road for me to admire, then I’m as happy as can be.  I adore roadside shrines, country churches, little chapels.  I squee at sightings of places like Sheffield’s Catfish House (Where Jesus Is Lord) or the God Cafe, both in Florida, or Georgia’s Family Values Inn.  If there’s a Virgin Mary in a half-sunk bathtub, I want to see it.  Vehicles covered with inflammatory, insane religious rantings make me feel like an entomologist scrutinizing a new and potentially hazardous insect species.  And if there are pamphlets available, don’t get in my way; I’m absolutely besotted with printed matter.

What all this says about me, I don’t know, but chances are there’s a diagnostic criteria for it somewhere.  It entertains me and irks my spouse, whatever the DSM-IV might say.  I’m determined to start getting more photographs of these things, which are second only to abandoned buildings in my list of favorite things to shoot.  Perhaps it’s because all of these things are just that–things, thus allowing me to remain in observer consciousness and not have to fully engage with them (and with the oftentimes odious things which they represent and/or perpetuate).  There is danger in art, of course, as there is danger in symbol; but I can distance myself from those dangers by reducing the things that carry them to mere roadside attractions, innocuous and easily forgotten as a Stuckey’s billboard.


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