If you have been following this blog for a long time, then you know how much I love visiting cemeteries. I am lucky that Chicagoland has so many interesting and historic ones, from Bohemian National Cemetery to Graceland Cemetery. A lot of these places have photo ceramics, which are porcelain portraitures, that first began appearing on gravestones in the U.S. back at the turn of the century. While the wealthy could afford sculptures and busts of the deceased, these photos made it easy and affordable for the working class to memorialize the likenesses of their loved ones (even if some were postmortem as seen in the baby photo above). Although some people find it weird or creepy that I like to hang out with dead people; to be honest, it actually makes me feel more alive. It reminds me that life is fleeting; we should enjoy it while it lasts. To walk through an old graveyard is kind of like walking through history. These collections of headstones and monuments tend to be ignored spaces, probably because most people deny the inevitable, that one day we will all die. For whatever reason, seeing all the people who died so young, and being able to put a face with a name, not only satisfies my curiosity about history but also puts a perspective on life and the world we live in. And even though most, if not all, these people are now forgotten, they live on through their photos. Let’s not forget the saying “The eyes are the window to the soul.”
*I took photos of these photo ceramics throughout the Chicagoland area over many years from Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Sorrows cemeteries, both located in Hillside (the former is where Al Capone is buried), and St. Joseph Cemetery in River Grove to Mt. Olivet Cemetery and Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago to Restvale Cemetery in Alsip.