The “Before I Die” Project

New Orleans artist Candy Chang created the first Before I Die wall in 2011, after the death of a close friend. By painting the wall of an abandoned house in her neighborhood with chalkboard paint and repeatedly stenciling the phrase “Before I die I want to”, followed by a blank line, she established a local … Read moreThe “Before I Die” Project

“Facing Death Without Religion”

An excerpt from Christel Manning’s excellent essay for the Harvard Divinity Bulletin on how nontheists/atheists, freethinkers et al face their own mortality: We often think of science as cold and hard and value neutral. Max Weber famously wrote of how the ascendancy of science over religion in the modern world has led to “disenchantment.” Yet … Read more“Facing Death Without Religion”

“Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines”

Here is Allison Elizabeth Solso’s 2015 dissertation on the theme of “vernacular memorials”; the often-temporary shrines constructed by bereaved families and friends at the sites of often-violent deaths. An excerpt: My relationship to these spaces was always confused, even as I did my best to maintain respect and some modicum of decorum. The need to … Read more“Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines”

“Reinventing Death for the Twenty-First Century”

James Pallister’s 2018 article for the UK Design Council offers an overview of how modern designers are reimagining and reinventing the experience of death: We’ve had a 50-year experiment with medicalising mortality, with casting it as just another problem for us to treat like any other, and I think that experiment is failing. But we … Read more“Reinventing Death for the Twenty-First Century”

Jim McKenzie’s “Friends with Death”

Artist Jim McKenzie’s process in sculpting Friends with Death is documented here via stop-motion animation. Reimagining the Reaper is important work as we move towards a more thanatopositive cultural outlook. In McKenzie’s vision, eternal Death pauses for a moment, entranced by the transient beauty of life in the form of a turquoise-winged butterfly. If you’d … Read moreJim McKenzie’s “Friends with Death”