“Death by Design”

Freelance writer and philosopher Daniel Callcut speculates for Aeon on the notion of bespoke, curated deaths: The word ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek for a ‘good death’. However, this idea of a positively good death can easily be lost in contemporary debates over euthanasia where the emphasis is typically on the rights of a person … Read more“Death by Design”

“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

This is my Summer Solstice contribution to the Artists of the Wall 2021 project. It’s a local (Rogers Park, Chicago) tradition extending back about 30 years, when residents started decorating a 600 foot long concrete bench/ barrier between Loyola Park and the Lake Michigan beach. Artists purchase the right to paint sections of the wall … Read more“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)

I will be teaching this upcoming online course via the Morbid Academy, starting August 25: This course explores an emergent, dynamic and positive response to the existential problem of death denial, centered on the simple philosophical premise of “mortality sapience”; that by remembering death, we can learn to seize the day. In that spirit, artists, … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)

The Holocaust Memorial (Berlin, Germany)

I visited the Holocaust Memorial during a trip to Berlin in May of 2012. Unfortunately I did not have time to enter the underground museum/information centre, so this review is specific to the open-air installation, which is the most conceptually brilliant memorial I have ever seen, or, more accurately, “been part of”. The Memorial is … Read moreThe Holocaust Memorial (Berlin, Germany)

Spirit Parks: Symposium to Reimagine Cemetery 2020

Here’s Chicago architect Mark A. Miller’s compelling vision towards reinventing cemeteries to better match contemporary sensibilities: In the United States, the centuries old traditional model of cemetery is failing to resonate with current generations and changing ideals about death, grief and memorialization. People are looking beyond the rituals of traditional religions and the constructs of … Read moreSpirit Parks: Symposium to Reimagine Cemetery 2020

“Memorial Ritual and Art: A Case Study and Exploration of the Potential for Healing”

Click here to read Cinder Hypki, Rhonda S. Cooper and Louise Knight’s paper examining the use of ritual in grieving and healing processes: The powerful symbolic and metaphorical nature of ritual is a compelling “medium” unto itself for community artists and cultural workers. “Performance artists” and artist-activists often use elements of ritual to engage and … Read more“Memorial Ritual and Art: A Case Study and Exploration of the Potential for Healing”

Recompose, the First Human-Composting Funeral Home in the U.S., is Now Open for Business

Click here to read Brendan Kiley’s article for the Seattle Times: As I’ve learned more about Recompose, I’ve found it to be a very graceful and beautiful way to go,” Bontrager said. “It’s the natural way, the way every living thing in history has eventually been cared for, from an apple core to a human … Read moreRecompose, the First Human-Composting Funeral Home in the U.S., is Now Open for Business

Midwinter Solstice and the Notion of Genius Loci

My Midwinter altar – I think “locus” is actually more apt in this context – is a literal illumination of the vanitas theme, a union of wunderkammer and kamidana (wunderkamidana?) It’s an assemblage of objects whose symbolic meanings are both amplified and made more subtle by their interrelationships. I try my clumsy best to make … Read moreMidwinter Solstice and the Notion of Genius Loci