Art As Social Inquiry

How We Die


Update: (8/2015) The first two posts for this project involved violent deaths. The violence has stirred all kinds of new questions for me. Why do we kill? What happens to families that experience the violent death of loved ones? Are we numbing ourselves as a society because this omnipresent violence causes such great pain, confusion, and sadness? The research for these paintings has moved and disturbed me greatly. We must look at the violence. We must try to understand. We must change.

Thoughts that culminated into the How We Die series:

I have been fascinated by death for decades –not so much the countless ways we die but that we die at all.  Why bother being born if we are destined to die? What is the point? 

What would our lives be if we were not always evading the fact that we die? Would we live differently? More fully?  After all, these bodies will cease to be. What are we waiting for to start living? What are we afraid of?

So how do we lose our fear of death? To my way of thinking, we must first examine it thoroughly.  And so I immerse myself in the subject by way of this series of paintings I’m calling How We Die.

One way to address fear, perhaps, is to know ourselves as individuals, communities, and nations by the way we die, and by the rituals we perform around death.

A goal of the project is to be a mirror. I hope this project serves as a catalyst for self-examination. Then perhaps we can glean insight and strength from other people and cultures as we face our own fears of dying.

I hope this series of paintings takes me around the world as I examine the rituals and causes of death in cultures across the planet. I expect to be busy for many years to come.

When we discover the deathless nature of mind, we lose fear of our physical selves dying. If we explored the myriad ways we die, and make peace with physical death, would we discover what it means to fully live?




(please click on the pictures to get the full story behind the paintings.)