This article is written by David Blake who owns Spirit Pieces. Spirit Pieces is an online memorial arts gallery showcasing wonderfully beautiful memorial from some of this country’s leading artists.  They specialize in glass and crystal resin jewelry but also have a selection of ceramic urns.

Art and Death; not concepts normally spoken together…

…In mixed company yet a bedrock of the human experience for thousands of years.  For what is art but a way for people to express concepts, be they creative or technical, through emotional context.  And what brings emotions to the surface like the death of a loved one?

One only needs to look back through time to see the timeless link between art and death.   Identified as a personified motif in most cultures (Anubius in ancient Egypt, Yama in India), artistic expression of death’s motif has created many historically lasting artistic works.    Examples of this range from the Pyramids (and associated murals depicting the journey to the underground) to the ‘Dance of Death’ artistic phase in 14th century Europe.

The existence of a robust art genre revolving around death should be of no surprise given death’s ubiquitous nature, however to many it is.   To a large degree this reflects the relative infrequency of the event.  While intellectually we know people die every day, art is driven by emotion (of both the artist and recipient) and strong emotion is only felt when the death of someone close occurs.  Contrast this to art related to sexuality, humor, or the situational; emotional chords we experience daily and can easily peruse in personal and public settings.

This is not to downplay the existence of memorial art in today’s society; it is a constant presence beneath the more ‘traditional’ artistic genres.  I would, however, postulate memorial art is more ‘concentrated’; both emotionally and temporally.  When memorial art comes into play, the nature of the subject means it is felt more strongly and leaves a stronger emotional impact than many other art forms (abstract art anyone.)

We see this all the time at Spirit Pieces where we showcase memorial art from dozens of artists.  Be it paperweights or memorial jewelry we’ve received many emails and calls from people who cried when they received art containing the cremains of their loved ones.   And looking at our competitors, we see the same response echoed in their testimonials.   It’s less about the actual item, it’s more about what it means emotionally – the very definition of art.

I believe we’re on the cusp of a resurgence of memorial art into general awareness.  From the greater acceptance of Hospice and discussion of death, to the impact on social media to share stories and news, conversations involving death and the journey, the conversation is ever increasing.  As the level of conversation increases, more people will be in a place to consider memorial art as a natural and expected part of healing from the loss of a loved one.


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