April 8, 2017

Ars Moriendi: Visions of Death made Beautiful Lecture

Ars Moriendi: Visions of Death made Beautiful

Talk by Joanna Ebenstein with Chris McCreary and David Spolum in support of Tracing the Remains

Light refreshments will be served


The mystery of death has inspired artists and makers for centuries to create images that entwine death and beauty in ways surprising to a contemporary sensibility. This heavily illustrated talk by Joanna Ebenstein will take you on a tour of some of the most remarkable and provocative artifacts from mankind's eternal need to make sense of his own morality, spanning many centuries, mediums, and intended usages.  Linked to this topic, writers Chris McCreary and David Spolum will each present their poetic work that is influenced by the Mütter Museum collection.


Joanna Ebenstein is the co-curator of the award winning exhibition The Art of Mourning and cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn.  Ebenstein’s writing and photography have been published and exhibited internationally.  She speaks regularly on topics at the inspections of art and medicine, death and culture.


Chris McCreary is coeditor of ixnay press and the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is [ neüro / mäntic ] (Furniture Press, 2014). Poet-critic Amy Catanzano writes that McCreary's work "can complicate binaries such as Romantic and Post-Avant Garde poetics or subvert ordinary notions of past, present, and future."


David Spolum is the cowriter of Through the Weeping Glass, a documentary by the Quay Brothers that examines the Mütter Museum collection.  Spolum also teaches art history, film studies, mythology and arcane subjects including a course on the Quay Brothers at the University of the Arts.  If reading is considered necromancy, he divides his time equally between the living & the dead.


This viscerally introspective exhibition by Philadelphia artists Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack explores transformations of the living body and its decay post mortem. Highly detailed embroidered and crocheted pieces adapt the Mütter Museum collection into captivating personal narratives. Swarming with intricate beadwork, layered drawings, and thousands of stitches, Small’s infirmed figures struggle against consuming pathologies. McCormack’s willowy skeletal forms are distilled to gripping memories pinned to stark, inky backgrounds, shielded by Victorian style framing. This evocative work advocates for a more personal perspective of The Mütter Museum collection, addressing the effects of chronic illness.

15% of all artwork sales from Tracing the Remains will benefit Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia

Questions? Please email events@collegeofphysicians.org or call (215) 399-2342

The Mütter Museum helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

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