January 18, 2007

Art in Death

In an earlier post, Art Honoring Life, I noted the emerging funerary arts movement.   

First a show, now a gallery with the opening this week in Sonoma County that's dedicated to crematory urns and other "personal memorial art"

The gallery, christened Art Honors Life, will showcase the work of some 40 artists and craftspeople who are collectively pioneering a new aesthetic of death — creating sophisticated vessels of burnished terracotta, redwood burl, black glass, even biodegradable paper mixed with ashes from ancient oaks that, in terms of sheer artistic ambitiousness, hark back to the ancient Egyptians.

“Art and beauty can assuage anxiety,” said Maureen Lomasney, the 56-year-old artist and gallery owner, who started the concept with a Web site called Funeria, and sponsored a juried exhibition in Philadelphia last fall called “Ashes to Art,” a kind of Venice Biennale for the urn set. “Our goal is to take away fear.”

Seems to work for Laura Clauson  whose mother now reduced to ashes  lie in an

artist-designed ceramic prayer wheel etched with stenciled leaves. Having her mother’s remains close by ---— is comforting to Ms. Clauson, a 50-year-old transportation planner. “I’ll walk by and give mom a spin,” she said of the vessel, which is attached to a turntable. “Her presence is here.”

“As our understanding of death changes over time, the forms we use to mourn also change,” said Robin Jaffe Frank, senior associate curator at the Yale University Art Gallery and the author of “Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures” ... “We’re all object-oriented, and we need tangible forms to express our relationship to a person no longer here. Mourning art responds to a deeply felt need.”

In Death as in Life, A Personalized Space

Posted by Jill Fallon at January 18, 2007 12:24 PM | TrackBack | Permalink