Memento Mori: A Book of Remembrance and Joy

The Roman General has a slave that follows him closely from behind. The slave whispers “Memento Mori” –remember you are mortal, remember you will die.

The symbolism of memento mori has occurred again and again in artworks for centuries. One’s inevitable death can have transformative power for art, as in “Ars Moriendi”  — The art of dying well or living righteously in this moment.  How can we work these extraordinary ideas into our art?

In this workshop, you will create a very personal tribute book, filled with mementos and touchstones. This book will be a celebration and a memorial to our loved ones’ past and a commitment  to a life and love to honor their memory.  On the first day, you will begin by digging deep to create personal text. By using exercises in lettering and calligraphy on various surfaces, develop a personal style of handwriting along with larger letter styles for titles and labels. Experimental tools and pens will give this book a unique lively stamp. The pages of the book will be either paper or fabric, or any found materials.  

On the second day, pages may be primed, sprayed, torn, stamped or painted with washes of color, creating textural backgrounds. Finding the correct pen or pigment and design of the page will be a part of the discovery. The book will be filled joyously and raucously with photos and collage of you and your family. Text in your own hand will fill the book.

Day three introduces simple photo transfer techniques to quickly enter images, as well as fabric layering and hand stitchery. Mementos and amulets from your loved one’s past and personal items you will leave after your own passing will be placed into your book. The fabric cover of the book will be completed and simple sewing and finishing techniques presented.

What will you leave? What words would you say to those who follow you? There will be very big questions to ask yourself as you explore this concept within a safe and nurturing space. The imagery of the Day of the Dead may inspire you — the Mexican tradition is one filled with joy, not sorrow. In fact, it’s a giant party at the graveside, a celebration of life!  This workshop will create a book filled with the joy of life to remind us of memento mori.