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Jean McMann - Altars and Icons

The author defines a shrine as "an ordered arrangement of objects with symbolic meaning." She goes on to say, "To make a shrine, no matter how simple, is to make art - not for profit, but as a gift." I think of an altar (or shrine) as a place that visually reminds us to live deeper lives. Be still and go within. From that stillness comes a more profound and purposeful life.

Some people are reluctant to put an altar in their home for fear that its formality will clash with their décor. This book has precious few "formal" altars and serves as a marvelous inspiration for those who want an altar reflecting their personal style and reminding them of their own life's journey.

There are scores of altars presented in this book (55 to be exact). Each altar is a very unique expression, a window into someone's life. Each one is lovingly described by the person who made it and photographed by Jean McMann. They are a huge variety of styles - from serene minimalist to true American clutterbug. There are quite a few with Mexican imagery, which isn't surprising since most of them are from Texas and California. In one instance an entire automabile is an altar, each part alive with symbolic meaning.

Seeing is believing.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, www.chroniclebooks.com, (800) 858-7787, 0-8118-1816-0, 124 pages, color photographs, hardback, $16.95

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