This is work I started in the spring of 2015 following the death of my mother. It’s a suite of 20 mixed media pieces (each measuring about 6×9”), most of the images are partly recycled with the under-layers coming from etched plates, then worked with mixed media. The title of the suite is: Mist and Dust – Memories and Traces of the Dead.
When I think about work relating to death, I think of memento mori and vanitas. This work is not memento mori, (from Latin meaning, “remember you must die”). Mememto mori (often depicting skulls or skeletons) are designed to be symbolic pieces that get us thinking about our own mortality. Memento mori serve to remind us of the shortness and the fragility of our lives. This work is not really like the overlapping genre of art known Vanitas, (which is Latin for emptiness), it was particularly popular among 16th and 17th century Northern European artists. Vanitas painting, similar to Memento Mori, focused on the transience of life, images of death and decay, the certainty of death, and the ultimate futility of earthly pleasure.
What these works are, in part, is a way for me to reach peace with the deaths of people in my life. They embrace ideas of mystery, loss and remembrance, and the divide between heaven and earth. Some of these pieces might be seen as morbid or creepy, but I don’t feel that way about them. Some are references to things concrete (like an object belonging to someone), or the unexplainable (like a perfectly delivered symbolic message or vision) that I, or my family members, have experienced after the deaths of loved ones. Others depict notions referencing death, spirits, thin places, or the afterlife.