April 21 – Celebration of “Flores para los Muertos”

Stella Luca Press proudly announces the publication of Flores para los Muertos, Photographs of the Historic Key West Cemetery by Michael A. Philip.  The book is based on Michael’s 2008 photographic exhibition at TSKW.  Michael will be a guest in Maureen Tracy Venti’s studio at the Armory to preview his book at the April 21st Walk-on-White from 6-9 pm. Books can be pre-ordered that evening, and buyers will have the opportunity to inscribe books with a dedication when ordering.

The book’s 6×9 inch format is designed to have an intimate feel. The book was printed in full color by a state-of-the-art digital printing process on archival, high quality, acid free, coated matte photographic paper and chemical free ink. The hard cover and dust jacket are both in full color.

Michael’s photographic essay explores Key West’s Historic Cemetery. His vibrant photographic series of flowers, cemetery monuments and crypts becomes a metaphor for the contrasts between the romantic idealization and the stark physicality of death. The book is a reflection in three parts on how we remember our dead. The three sections of the book are named after three Spanish poems written by Cuban author, Aicercul with English translation by Maria L. Del Riesgo, Michael A. Philip and Maureen Tracy Venti. The poetry frames the narrative of Michael’s photographic journey and gives voice to the cemetery’s rich, diverse history.

The first section entitled “Flores” (Flowers) features Michael’s large flower photographic prints. The intensity of the colors evokes the emotional state immediately following a death. Family are distraught and pre-occupied with arrangements for wake, funeral and burial. During this time mourners offer comfort, flowers, pay respects and attend memorial services. In Key West as in other communities, the custom of leaving silk and plastic flowers keeps the graves decorated after fresh flowers have decayed.

The second section “Exilio” (Exile) uses Michael’s black and white photographs to represent the next stage of grief when, after the activity of the funeral has subsided, the permanence of death is felt most profoundly.  As with an exile separated by oceans from home and loved ones, the living are left behind longing for the presence of the departed. Toward the end of this section the photographs are sepia-toned, as those who are grieving begin to return to their everyday routines.

The third section, “Descanso” (Repose) represents the stage of acceptance. The softer colors in these photographs represent muted grief. Those left behind make peace with the loved one’s death, both in their own way at rest. As visits to the cemetery become less frequent even the artificial flowers gradually fade, like memories passing with generations.

Stella Luca Press, located in Key West and Jackson, NH, is a new literary publishing company founded by Maureen Tracy Venti that specializes in Art Books and Poetography, the visual art of combing images with poetic lines. They also publish poetry, short fiction and essays. Stella Luca Press believes publishing is an art form which adds another dimension to an artist’s work. Their mission is to make books that are themselves works of art, prized possessions to be picked up and enjoyed again and again.

The Studios of Key West