Toward Eternity: An Artistic Exploration of Death and the Fear of Dying

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Thomas, McKenzie
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There has always been a close relationship between art and mortality. Explorations of death, the afterlife, and the mortal reality of the viewer have been featured in famous works of art throughout much of history, and there is in fact a genre just for this phenomenon: vanitas paintings. This project is a modern revision of the common imagery and underlying meaning of vanitas paintings, using mirrors as canvases for death-related images to further connect the audience to them— literally seeing themselves inside of the art. In doing so, this exhibition has become a means of honoring those who embraced death as an old friend when their time came and an exploration of death anxiety and how deeply it permeates our society. In turn, this made space for conversations about death, anxiety, funerary customs, and even religion.