Memento Mori

Memento Mori 2012 unique chromogenic photogram 90" x 90" (3 30" x 90" panels)

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase that translates to "Remember your mortality." The Memento is an artistic theme dating back to antiquity, and it refers to a genre of artworks that vary widely but which share a common purpose: to remind people of their mortality. More than a work of art, Memento Mori acts as a catalyst for the human imagination to engage with questions surrounding the nature of life and death; on the mortal constraints of all people, and the finite, fragile boundaries of the human body. 

The tree of life has been used as a symbol by all branches of human knowing. It emerges in various world theologies, mythologies, and philosophies; it concedes a mysterious reality alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, and provides a metaphor for our common, evolutionary ancestry. The tree exhibits a transitory beauty, an ephemeral symbol of mortality that engages the Earth as a living medium, and illustrates the passage of time. 

The triptych structure of Memento Mori deepens the symbolism of the tree itself— branches reaching to the sky, roots plunging deep in the earth, and a trunk planted firmly in between. The tree dwells in three worlds and offers a fragile link between heaven, earth, and underworld. Uniting above and below, the passage of growth and decay, the tree takes on the appearance of death in the winter, only to sprout new branches with the return of spring. In this way, the tree is a symbol of resurrection, a potent medium erupting from unbroken terrains, flourishing in open air, and falling into dark geographies once more. 

Memento Mori acquires a moralizing purpose—the prospect of death serves to emphasize the emptiness and fleetingness of earthly pleasures, luxuries, and achievements, and thus serves as an invitation to focus one's thoughts on the fragility of existence and the prospect of the afterlife. Memento Mori reveals the multifaceted nature of the death-rebirth mystery and serves to illuminate the human life cycle. 

Viewers of Memento Mori are invited to contemplate life and death from multiple points of view. The tree image is a living Memento Mori. Its purpose is to remind the viewer that death is an unavoidable part of life, something to be prepared for at all times. But the image of the tree also reminds us of something startling and important: life is meaningful, temporary, and sacred. 

Since its creation, Memento Mori has been installed in some amazing places!

Installation at an Amazon building in Seattle, Washington.

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Installation at The Arthur in Portland, Oregon.

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Installation at Apas House Bed & Breakfast in Portland, Oregon.

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