Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Begining

Hello there, This is my attempt to reach out to my friends and fellow searchers for meaning. I have been an artist all my life and am just now beginning to understand what this compulsion to make art is all about for me. I have a notion others are in this same search for themselves and I would like to share with them our musings.

Recently I have been working on art related to death. This theme found me, as it seems all my work has (more on this idea later). I have started making funeral urns and have made a couple grave markers as well. Nothing in my long career of making objects has given me more pleasure and sense of purpose than working with clients on urns for their loved ones and themselves. I’m trying to figure out why and also trying to figure out if this is a reasonable direction to pursue.

While researching funeral urns, contemporary urns at least, there seems to be many really bad choices. Most of these choices are inexpensive, mass produced imports with some sort of engraving option. Not an artful or meaningful choice for many. A few artists are on the web specializing in urns but again I’m not seeing anything that really fills a desire to express meaning in a personal, meaningful way. Is this a niche that needs attention? Is it morbid to find meaning and even joy in contemplating death?

My friend Jack Becker has written a new book exploring some of these questions, A Few Last Words: Your Guide To The Art Of Self Memorializing, available on Amazon. This is an irreverent look at writing your own eulogy and came along when several commissions came to me for creating urns for customers. Anyway when things like this happen to me (coincidence?) I now try to be proactive and search out just what it is the art gods are pointing me to now.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom --

    I was in the Last Stop last week and you came out thinking I was holding a baby. The name's Kathleen.

    I like your question: Is it morbid to find meaning and even joy in contemplating death? I became quite fascinated with the subject after my mother died in my arms in 2005. Next to the birth of my 3 kids, it was the most spiritual and truly illuminating experience I've had.

    In ways, her death felt like birth in reverse. The dying process just fascinates me now. While visiting the Rothko Chapel in Houston a couple years ago, I stumbled upon a tattered copy of the Buddhist Book of Death and Dying. I entered the chapel to meditate, then read passages from the book. I couldn't believe how much resonance it had for me.

    So the answer to your question is, I have no idea. And I'm not at all bothered by that.

    I guess I think that this period of time during which we live (and perhaps it's peculiar to our country) seems filled with great fears and misgivings about death. That saddens me, because there is joy to be found.

    I salute you for bringing your artistic and searching spirit to the conversation!