It is in the nature of people to wonder about what is unknown or forbidden. Death is a perfect mystery in that way; there is no knowing what lies beyond the veil. I was raised in the Catholic church and my religion has shaped my understanding of death and the afterlife. There is a sense of comfort in the beautiful, sacramental portrayal of death provided by the church. Believing in a covenant and in life everlasting assuages some of the dread of mortality. While religion can inform one’s view of death, each person has a unique relationship to the subject. For me, there is a certain tension between following the religious doctrines I believe in and exploring my own understanding of death. There is a difficult relationship also between the sense of fear and the peace of understanding. With this work, I hope to explore death in a way that is, if not positive, at least unfearful.
There is an innate desire in people to understand death. Ancient mummified bodies are often found buried with objects. Grave goods are found in nearly every culture the world over. Elaborate mourning rituals are in our blood. There is a strong calling to face death. In recent years, death and mourning have moved out of the home. Whereas in the Victorian era, a person’s body was washed and prepared by their family and displayed in the home parlor, today bodies are quickly whisked away by professionals. This cultural shift has hidden death away from our everyday lives. Such a disconnect can make death even more elusive than it already is.
With this work, I explore the sense of mystery surrounding death. I grew up in a house full of old things, and that made me feel connected to my ancestors in a palpable way. The importance of remembrance was woven into the fabric of our family home. Echoes of the past bring with them a glimpse into the void. This work engages in a strange kind of storytelling. Through a series of vignettes that conceal and reveal information, I attempt to capture the shadowy, elusive nature of understanding death.