The brass table covered with mysterious shiny objects reflecting light from the warm fire; the scent of burning piñon sap; caramel oatmeal cookies, thin as lace; colorful tissue crowns found in the foiled Christmas cracker; candles on every surface – these are memories of Christmas Eve in our grandparents Alexander and Susan Girard’s home. An anecdote by Aleishall Girard Maxon.
For Alexander Girard, the holidays were beloved, important rituals. Although he was not raised with a specific religious focus, he was certainly inspired by many of the classic Christmas ceremonies of bringing people together to celebrate life and creation. Growing up in Florence, Italy, he visited hundreds of churches, sat quietly for a moment of reflection, noticed the architecture and lit a candle. During Christmas, of course, these visits were made more extraordinary with the distinct smell of pine boughs and the colorful nativity scenes.
Girard saw the Christmas holiday as a time to celebrate family and friends, but also as a moment to honor ancient myths, stories and symbols that were more about human connection than any one dogma. He came back to the scene of the crèche again and again throughout his career, exploring different mediums, scales and compositions. For Girard it was the universal elements represented in the scene that fascinated him most: light from a star, the giving of gifts, the miracle of birth, a mother, a father, animals and the pulse of creativity itself inherent in this story.