GOING TO HEAVEN IS a sort of Defending Your Life meets Lord of the Flies. What happens if the afterlife completely turns your expectations upside-down? But it wasn’t my intent to go all theological on this old, whitewashed schoolhouse (or church house) window.
What predetermined the concept was a cardboard box full of 70-year old newspapers I found at a flea market in East Texas. Someone, thankfully, had saved about three-years worth of rotogravure sections from the Kansas City Star, circa 1939 to 1941. The broad array of subject matter represented in the thousands of newspaper photographs, combined with the cathedral-like, arched window, suggested something epic.
I worked for weeks tearing out by hand the fragments of this panorama, from scenes of shipwreck to children splashing in swimming pools. The figures falling from the sky were often pieced together Frankenstyle, waist-down from one figure and waist-up from another; an arm from here, a leg from there. The actors include the once-world-famous Norwegian figure skater and film star, Sonja Henie, professional wrestlers, and a man being shot from a canon.
Rotogravure is a commercial printing technique that gave its name to the Sunday feature section of American newspapers, the print version of newsreels. These weekly editions mixed news and human interest photos and stories, and in this particular era, were printed in rich, sepia inks on a low grade of coated paper rather than the usual, pulpy newsprint.