September 4, 2017 - January 14, 2018
Thirteen artists explore the tradition of memento mori – an artwork that reminds the viewer of their mortality, impermanence, and even the shortness and fragility of human life. Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’. Memento mori artwork became popular in the seventeenth century, in a religious age when almost everyone believed that life on earth was merely a preparation for an afterlife. We are reminded almost every day of the truth of impermanence. We often want to assign cause and effect and blame to these losses, at the same time that we recognize the randomness of nature. The artworks you see here explore how artists sometimes find a way to deal with loss.
Nick Candela’s work addresses the ephemeral nature of life today and the pervasive awareness of our mortality, but it does so through the overuse of the vulgar.
Having drawn his father all his life, Miguel Carter-Fisher made one last drawing of his father, Bill Fisher, moments before his funeral.
Ginna Cullen’s blank books, handmade with care and obsessiveness, address the many paths that a life might take, but there’s ultimately an ending.
Bill Fisher's son, Miguel helped me select a piece of Bill’s that he believes “was an uncharacteristically candid confession of hope for transcendence” by his father.
Vaughn Whitney Garland provides us with a sound installation with the voice of his father telling stories as his memories begin to fade. Listen to Vaughn Garland's sound piece.
Stella Graham-Landau’s intimate encaustic pieces use fragmented but insistent images, unfocused and obscured to respond to the loss within the same year of her mother, her brother, her sister-in- law, and a cat.
Jonathan Lee's sculptural set explores his memories of four friends who died while he was living in Memphis TN and how those memories have stuck with him, even as they become less clear over time.
John MacLellan says his intention with his photographic images of nature is to focus on the beauty that emerges during the process of transitioning from life to death.
Amie Oliver’s work addresses her grief over the loss of family members and precious animals along with bittersweet memories.
Michael A. Pierce uses layered surfaces to convey the fading memory of his mom’s potato salad.
Michael-Birch Pierce uses lace and sequins to address the loss of his grandmother and victims of the Orlando killing.
Elaine Rogers’s dissolving landscapes honor her father.
Janet Scagnelli uses of the ashes from burned photos of her recently deceased husband as part of the media in making drawings of those burning photos. Here is a link to her video supporting the work.
Many years ago, my spouse, Ron Lee, told me that when we grieve one thing, we grieve all of our losses. I believe he’s right.
- Michael A. Pierce, guest curator