Sunday, October 30 - Cemetery Art and Symbolism

Authors Paulette Chernack and Cassandra Davidson will present “Cemetery Art and Symbolism- A Talk and Workshop” at the Counting House Museum on Sunday, October 30, at 1:30 pm.   

The program is one of several of the Old Berwick Historical Society’s presentations this fall. Admission is by donation and the public is invited.

The author and the illustrator, a mother/daughter duo, will discuss art, symbolism and history found in graveyards and cemeteries, conservation and preservation information, and correct procedures for rubbing gravestones.

The speakers will also host a mini hands-on gravestone rubbing workshop. 

Weather permitting, they will then lead an in-the-field exploration to rub stones at Old Fields Burying Ground on Vine Street.  With stones dating to the 1700s, the site is South Berwick’s original community cemetery, from the time when the center of town was located near the Salmon Falls and Great Works Rivers. 

Chernack and Davidson, members of the Association for Gravestone Studies and the Maine Old Cemetery Association, have educated people about gravestone art and its history through hands-on lectures, demonstrations, and gallery exhibits. In 2003, they acquired Old Stone Enterprises and continue its tradition of manufacturing and selling high quality, deep-pigmented rubbing wax and malleable paper

Their book, “Lasting Impressions: Art, Symbolism, and History Found in Graveyards and Cemeteries” was released in September. 

“Paulette and Cassandra have carefully compiled an exceptionally beautiful book concentrating on the art, symbolism, and history found in graveyards and cemeteries,” said Cari Quater, development director for the Old Berwick Historical Society. 

An extensive index illustrating the symbolism carved on gravestones, information about how to properly rub a gravestone, important conservation and preservation notes, and a comprehensive study guide for educators make Lasting Impressions a resource book on American gravestone carving of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.

Each book section decodes the iconology found on New England gravestones, and in other locations such as Lewes, Delaware; Charleston, South Carolina; Key West and the west coast Florida. Even the history of New Orleans cemeteries with its so-called “Cities of the Dead” has its place in this presentation.

The authors’ products are sold worldwide, including an artist quality gravestone rubbing kit they designed and recently revised.

Their company, Gravestone Artwear® has been featured in The Boston Globe; Yankee Magazine; Down East Magazine; the Portland Press Herald; local Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seacoast newspapers; Boston WCVB TV’s Chronicle series; and as the subject of a Canadian documentary on unusual businesses. More information can be found at gravestonerubbingsupplies.com. 

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