Cart Search

2018 Annual Conference

Philadelphia

March 01-04, 2018

submit Remember my login
login
Search

2018 SPE Annual Conference: Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood / Hosted by The University of the Arts

Looking for a chapter event?

Past SPE Annual Conferences

Angelo Mantas

SPE Member since 1999
Member Chapter: Midwest

Epitaph

For the last several years, I've been photographing roadside memorials, places where people have died in auto accidents. This practice of marking the spot with a cross seems recent in the Midwest, but dates back to pre-automobile times. In the southwest, memorials (called descansos) were placed where Mexican pall bears would lay the casket down to rest while carrying it to the cemetery. Soon this practice evolved into marking the site of roadside fatalities. Robert Frank's Americans has a photo with 3 roadside crosses.

Besides being a very public expression of mourning and loss, these signs also serve as a warning, both to the particular dangers of that spot and of driving in general. States in the west often post generic markers at the site of fatalities. Some of the memorials I see are no more than a simple cross, but many are complex and personal, often with writing and epitaphs to the victims, and even the generic markers erected by state highway departments are being personalized. Many of them are kept up, with new flowers and other additions added as time goes by. In a society that avoids any serious discussion of death, they are a reminder of the fragile nature of life.

Atlanta, Georgia

Near Cortez, Colorado

Joliet, Illinois

Horse Cave, Kentucky

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Chicago, Illinois

Las Vegas, Nevada

Espanola, New Mexico

Swan Lake, Montana

Vernal, Utah

Bellingham, Washington

Whitefish, Montana

Email Sign Up

SPE email updates contain resources, news, and more!

About this piece

Comments about this piece

Dialogue and critique are important to the SPE mission.
Please join the conversation.

Exit Full Screen Mode