Frazer Blog

Are our memorials becoming modern art?

by | Feb 2, 2017 | For Families

girl looking at artwork

Every life is unique — so shouldn’t our memorials be? That’s the sentiment that’s been trending in the funeral profession for the past several years now.

A More Personal Memorial

The NFDA continually ranks personalization as one of its top trends. And if you were at the 2016 convention this year, it was the buzzword that could be found in almost all speeches and workshops.

With more families choosing cremation, we’re seeing endless ways in which we can customize our loved one’s memorial. We have 3D-printed urns like the replica of a space shuttle that this NASA engineer’s family requested. Even celebrities want unique urns made to celebrate their iconic legacies.

Other families are turning their loved ones into unique pieces of jewelry or custom glass sculptures. There are even options out there to have ashes mixed with paint to become a custom portrait or ashes incorporated into vinyl records.

It begs the question, are our memorials becoming modern works of art? One art agency seems to think so.

The New “Dying” Art

Funeria, according to their website, is a “unique international arts agency that has been leading the emerging genre for original, contemporary, thoughtfully conceived and superbly crafted funerary urns and vessels for people and our beloved animals since 2001.”

The agency’s artists have produced one-of-a-kind handmade urns as well as handmade, biodegradable clay vessels for natural burials.

Maureen Lomasney, who operates Art Honors Life, a gallery of Funeria, told the Chicago Tribune that “Each piece is like a person. It’s like you’re at a party. Some people have lampshades on their heads, some are talking very seriously, some are just posing, beautiful and elegantly. They can be whimsical, stately, charming. Each has character.”

The Art Honors Life gallery is the first of its kind. It’s an art gallery that’s dedicated solely to cremation urns and unique memorial art. Click here to see the Art Honors Life portfolio.

While the gallery may be the only one of its kind, other artists have started to find inspiration from the memorial art movement.

Art Startups

Eternity Art is a new startup founded by Matt Heintzelman, a fourth-generation member of the Heintzelman Funeral Home in Pennsylvania. The goal of his startup is to pair local artists with family members. They then work to create a unique piece of art that can be used to honor a loved one or store their ashes. The startup also gives clients and families the option to work with an artist while they are still alive, so that the artwork can better reflect their life.

Even the city’s art council has signed on to assist with assigning different artists to families. As of now, they have artists who specialize in glass, ceramic, mixed media, and wood.

When it comes to using art to reflect and honor an individual, Heintzelman believes this service can cater to both Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Cremation, Ceramics, and… Coffee?

A memorial urn that’s a modern work of art is one thing — but this startup wants to turn ashes into something else. Dinnerware.

The concept began with Justin Crowe. He’s an artist based out of New Mexico, and his project began with Nourish Dinnerware. Crowe created a handmade set of ceramic dinnerware and used a ceramic glaze mixed with cremated ashes to coat the pottery — which included bowls, candle holders, coffee cups, and plates. In his pottery glaze, Crowe incorporated the ashes of more than 200 people, and then sat down and had a dinner party with his guests.

From his Nourish project, Crowe started Chronicle Cremation Designs. In an interview with The Guardian, Crowe said that “Integrating someone’s ashes into ceramics is a way of infusing their memory into everyday life. So you can have coffee every morning with the memories of your grandmother, or have a bowl on the table to spark stories at family dinners.”

Watch Crowe’s video below to learn more.


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