Molly Ryan MFA Applied Craft + Design Practicum 2019
Although it is commonly understood that death marks a transition point for the departed, the manner in which people prepare for their own transition and how the survivors prepare for their loss varies greatly. Because there is little empirical understanding of what happens to us, our souls, when we die (beyond the biological) death remains mysterious. We are left to make myths, develop rituals, and band together as families, communities, and societies. We are left to make sense of how to honor the passing of a loved one, how to mourn their loss, fill their void, and how to go on with life after the wake. Which parts of these rituals are intended to oversee the transition of the departed and which parts are intended to oversee the transition of those that remain? Which are situated in the grey and can ritualistic acts bring relief to grief?
I began exploring the meaning and history behind death rituals to understand my experience with death and mourning. What is the meaning behind the care, or sometimes lack of care, given to the ritual of shepherding one from this life? What are the immediate and durational implications?
While engaging with this topic in my studio I observed and then acknowledged, repetitions and patterns in my process that I now look for. These themes have meaning to me in both the ritual of my art making practice and in my personal experience of death and grief, or maybe they are the product of it.