Lawn Mary

A found art project.

You’ve sauntered through the suburbs and stumbed upon her. Unchanged behind the chain fences or wrought-iron gates. Standing guard in front of the yard with the faded porch railings in need of fresh paint.

You’ve seen her leaning against the legions of plastic lattice or with the back of her dress pressed into overgrown bushes. She towers over tired flower gardens thick with wilting weeds or thin with tufts of sun-singed grass.

You can find her barefoot atop driveway gravel. Or near an upturned lawn chair. She sometimes sits beside bird baths that have dried, cracked, and become stone statues to nothing.

Her small white hands peek out from billowing sleeves, pressed together at heart center. Or else her arms are down her sides, elbows crooked, blessing No Trespassing signs with her open palms.

Sometimes wreathed in roses or wrapped in rosaries. The untailored textiles loose on her slim shoulders, shrugging at the state of this shrine. In her veil, she’s availed to whoever put her there, the unsung mother of dried mud and wind-blown litter that slid out from garabage can lids and into the land of her kin.

Or no. Maybe you didn’t notice her looking low over lawn shrapnel. The maiden of metal mailboxes always averts her eyes. Like she understands someone needs to be sorry on your behalf. Or just too timid to let her gaze graze the horizon. Her raison d’être is reverence or maybe resilience for resisting drifting away with the elements. But poised, perfectly still and almost sorrowful and alone. Who then is praying for whom?

Lawn Mary is a found art project that illustrates the unusual beauty of these often-deterioriating shrines to the Madonna. By examining the context of this historically reverent religious iconography outside of our houses and apartments, we see how our noblest intentions are inadvertently at odds with the reality we create. The Marys are as diverse as the homes and the residents of the neighborhoods in which they reside. Whether adorned with fresh flowers and jewelry, surrounded by lush gardens, or left chipped and eroding amid the disarray of unkempt lawns — each Mary is alluring in her own way.

Join the Lawn Mary Project by submitting photographs of outdoor Virgin Mary statues in urban and suburban scenery to or on Instagram tagged #lawnmary or directly to @lawnmary.