HEIDE HATRY: ICONS IN ASH, Cremation Portraits. A New Way of Memorializing

HEIDE HATRY: ICONS IN ASH, Cremation Portraits. A New Way of Memorializing Death is an exhibition in conjunction with Let’s Reimagine End of Life, a week long festival of exploring death through +300 exhibits, performances, discussions, screenings, and workshops.


The exhibit features cremation portraits of the Tredwell family, (the original owners of the 19th century home), other Icons in Ash memorial portraits, including portraits of pets, as well as a selection of post mortem photography from the Burns Archive, and poignant recreated scenes exploring 19th century customs of dying, bereavement, and remembrance.


Icons in Ash books are available in the museum as well as mailing kits about how to commission a memorial portrait. For more general information please click: Reimagine, Icons in Ash, Merchant’s House Museum


The purpose of ICONS IN ASH is very emphatically to celebrate the dead, to keep them in our lives in a palpable way that at once honors them and touches us to our very core. ICONS IN ASH memorial art works are made using a proprietary technique by means of which the cremated ashes of our beloved become a poignant, dignified, and enduring portrait. The art-work, in a way that hearkens to our most primordial human practices, IS our beloved.


The portrayal of the human image arose many millennia ago precisely for the purpose of keeping the dead among us. Not just in memory, but in charged ceremonial objects that were intended to embody and preserve their spirits for their survivors and for the community as a whole. It was a way of integrating the inexplicable fact of death into life, of insuring that the dead and what they meant stayed present and abided in us.


The project is accompanied by the book publication, Heide Hatry: Icons in Ash, in which twenty-seven contributing authors, including Siri Hustvedt, Lydia Millet, Rick Moody, Mark Dery, Peter Weibel, Eleanor Heartney, Steven Pinker, Hans Belting, Wolf Singer, and Luisa Valenzuela have offered a multiplicity of perspectives on the human relationship to death. These cover a wide range of topics, from art history through anthropology, psychology, philosophy, semiotics, ecology, and beyond, as well as discussing death taboos, post-mortem practices, personal experience, the impact of the relic and more. A social, deeply humanistic, and an aesthetic project, Icons in Ash, proposes an alternative to the way we see and interact with death, in particular a radically different approach to mourning and consolation, as well as to how we understand the purpose of art at its most fundamental level.


Museum admission is $15 (seniors/ students: $10)

Start Date

October 4, 2018

End Date

November 7, 2018


12:00 PM - 05:00 PM


Merchant's House Museum 29 East 4th St

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