Thursday, March 1, 2012

Art and Death: Holding Our Own

I watched this extraordinary documentary with three good friends this week. I had seen this film in a class on Caring for the Grieving last year and I was so moved I had to have my own copy. I tracked it down and made a movie night. It’s not everybody’s idea of a chick flick—but really, in a sense this is the ultimate love story and a heartbreaker that makes you happy to cry a lot.

Holding Our Own is about fabric artist Deidre Scherer who creates  “paintings” from her real life sketches of people who are dying. Her work is extraordinarily beautiful and her craft amazing in the ways she creates super-realism in portraiture using layers of fabric. But the other beauty is her belief in and her philosophy of the role that death plays in life.

The second focus of this film is the Hallowell Chorus in Burlington Vermont. Hallowell is a group of amateur and professional singers who volunteer to sing at deathbeds and in hospitals with people who are near death. Again, no, it doesn’t sound like fun but in fact this is stunning.

Watching this extraordinary film with close friends led us to an intimate conversation about our beliefs in life after death, and what we might like for our funerals and our desires for the way we’d like to experience the end of our lives.

Holding Our Own was produced by Paul Newman and it’s available from Netflix or can be purchased on Amazon. It’s a fabulous intersection of creativity and death—which is to say generation-- or life and death.

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