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Monday, January 28, 2013

What Will You Wear When You Die?

Posted by 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.
  • The Stranger
  • 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.

Seattle is thick right now with fashion designers who are plainly artists. Another is Anna Telcs. Her work will be featured in an exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery, opening next month, called The Dowsing. It will also include a performance that will occur three times on March 22.

What will you wear when you are dead? What did your own ancestors wear?

Mark Mitchell, inside shaping detail, silk ruffle jacket.
  • Photo by markmitchellburial.com 2013
  • Mark Mitchell, inside shaping detail, silk ruffle jacket.

 

Comments (7) RSS

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chromie 7
I'm a funeral director. Let me tell you something if you're thinking about this. Go a couple sizes too big. Most families bring me clothes that are too small. Gotta cut'em.
Posted by chromie http://www.facebook.com/kildabunny on January 28, 2013 at 10:56 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 6
A smile.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 28, 2013 at 3:55 PM · Report this
5
Some glass artists will make objects that incorporate cremains. So you can wear your ancestors (or other loved one who has died). You can also get cremains incorporated into a tattoo, if you live in the right place, and/or find the right tattooist.
Posted by Barbara on January 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM · Report this
4
Copper pennies?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on January 28, 2013 at 12:01 PM · Report this
3
This work hits all the right notes: evocative, beautiful, potentially useful, and pieces so clearly made with skill that even schmucks like me can see it.

Would he really be interested in letting someone release his piece and their loved one into the ocean? Is that not a perfect conclusion to art about death and decay, to decay itself? Isn't that the most healthy way for art to go, as a living thing which passes away rather than fading from memory in a storage room on the vain hope it will be one of the handful of pieces Future Generations remember?

Thanks for posting, Jen!
Posted by sahara29 on January 28, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Report this
2
I can't wait for this, Mark is a genius.
My mom and a cousin had a crazy funeral-planning fight over my grandmother; the cousin thought it really important that the casket have a pink velvet lining to match grandma's old lady orange hair. Mom thought that not only was that really dumb (who would see it?), but that it clashed horribly.
My ancestors are wackadoodle Mennonite folks for the most part, so I assume they're buried in the same ultra-plain handmade clothes they wore when alive. Never thought about it before.
Posted by alight on January 28, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
1
Fuck yeah Mark Mitchell! A fine artist and a true mensch.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 28, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this

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