e. v. noechel

Columbarium Collective

The Columbarium Collection is a work constantly under production. Current trends in funereal custom have resulted in a decrease in monuments to the dead. Over time death in America has become primarily about disposal and sanitation, and less concerned with long-term preservation. Critics such as Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Death accuse the funeral industry of creating a need for costly funerals, vaults, and monuments where there is none, while many religious groups have adopted the opinion that preservation is an act of idolatry. Popular concern has grown about the environmental impact of preserved bodies, the use of land for cemeteries. So the number of unmonumented dead increases, and while their families carry memories, stories are lost with each generation, and eventually even the names disappear.

As cities grow, land costs rise to a premium. Cemeteries fall out of use over time and become economically obsolete. Bodies are relocated, graveyards dismantled, and slowly we lose history.

The Columbarium Collection is an effort to mourn this loss and create pasts for those who have none. The end result is a multifaceted work commemorating the history of the common man, the people who, in the past, relied on tombstones and mausoleums to retain their names. Re-creating a columbarium of small shrines, created histories, photos, montage, and poetry, The Columbarium Collective creates a monument to lost stories, a wake for things forgotten.

Selections from this piece were recently displayed at the United Arts Regional Artists' Exhibition. A previous showing was held at I-Park in Connecticut.