by Jen Graves
on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 9:07 AM
This is an urn for human cremains, made of 275 strips of silk, each hand-dyed three times. It is meant to be tossed into the sea, where among like creatures—sea anemones, coral, blossoms of all kinds with soft edges—it will degrade naturally. Mark Mitchell made it, and it was displayed last year in a tiny, terrific, and occasionally terrifying exhibition of urns by artists at Lundgren Monuments.
Death sounds a little better now, because Mark Mitchell is making clothes for it. This coming September, Mitchell will show his line of burial clothing, which is featured on a new web site, Mark Mitchell Burial. In 2014, he will have an exhibition at Ghost Gallery. (The name of the gallery is apropos but the space is small and packed with seemingly way-too-earthly things like jewelry and greeting cards—I'd prefer this exhibition to happen on a warm summer night after dark, gorgeously lit, somehow inside the magical neogothic white arches at the Pacific Science Center.)
Right now, Mitchell is in Houston on a research trip visiting the National Museum of Funeral History. I wish I were there with him, looking over his shoulder, seeing what and how he's seeing.
Mitchell has long been the Seattle designer with the talent, imagination, sensitivity, and patience to make things that look impossible to construct, as if they had naturally occurred instead. Other local designers turn to him when they hit snags in their own creations, because they know he can make anything. The fact that he is turning his mind to death is a great conceptual development.