Artist-in-Residence Blog: Filming the Mount Auburn Winter

February 8, 2016

“In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.”

– Poet Elizabeth Alexander

Unlike the bright colors of Summer, the birdsongs of Spring, or the airborne leaves of Autumn, Winter is full of empty spaces. Most branches are bare, revealing the stunning superstructures of trees. The normally noisy colors are muted to greys, dull browns and ruminative shades of blacks. A spare, cinematic beauty. And people. People are mostly absent from the rolling hills, stone memorials, and ice covered ponds. Perfect for filming, especially in the morning, around sunrise.

On this day, the first major snowstorm of the year, I am hunting among the stones. Stalking feelings. The emotions reach deeper during this season — In the cold, sharp slap of the wind on the face, the sparser cries of overwintering birds, and the dull ache of feet in boots.

For the images in my mind, falling snow is the best. The flakes in the air, a slight wind blowing them a few degrees off the vertical, and powder everywhere below. It’s our annual New England magic show, and I’ve been holding on to my ticket for almost a year.  Rising before dawn, I’m here to complete a four-season cinematic survey around several sites: the statue, Hygeia, by the 19th century African-American sculptor, Edmonia Lewis; the monument to George Angell, animal rights activist and founder of the MSPCA; the lovingly carved stone from one wife to her late wife; and a modest, shared stone that memorializes a mother who slowly passed away from cancer while her daughter, then a freshman in college, nursed her in their nearby home.

Oh, the humanity. – Roberto Mighty, Artist-in-Residence, Mount Auburn Cemetery

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