At multiple times in my life I have assisted with the arrangement of a family members funeral. These funerals would take place in the same, small town, family run funeral home my family had been using for years. Even at a young age I was moved, perplexed, even fixated on the aesthetics and traditions associated with funerals.
Drawing from the experiences with the funeral arrangements of my family, alongside research culled from the histories of modern-day funerary practices, I build photographs that celebrate beauty while also exploring cultural attitudes surrounding death.
Specifically, I focus on the viewing areas, lounges, and social spaces that comprise the majority of traditional funeral homes.The suggested documentary nature of these photographs is subverted with the intermixing of my own staging and construction in order to arrive at a scene that hovers between fact and fiction. The photographs showcase a kind of theatre; a perceived elegance and oscillating decoration with deep connections to community and loss.
Beauty is almost always associated with loss because beauty is transformative; a type of catalyst that changes raw grief into something more endurable, and absolutely universal. Beautiful objects and spaces play a significant role in healing and I find them all equally alluring from the most opulent draperies to perplexing arrangements of color, furniture, and technological upgrades.
These photographs are designed to be familiar, and to be strange; to remind us we are not alone in our grief, and to reveal our inherent need for beauty in even the most unexpected circumstances.
Link to Gallery Guide via Des Moines Art Center