Please visit HEIDE HATRY’S website devoted exclusively to ICONS IN ASH

Please consult our PROJECTS page for a list of exhibitions and events in which HEIDE HATRY participated

Icons in Ash: Cremation Portraits

December 8, 2016 — May 16, 2017

Ubu Gallery presented the exhibition of Heide Hatry’s extraordinary body of work, Icons in Ash: Cremation Portraits. 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. Heide Hatry, an intellectually challenging German visual artist working in New York, has created a new technique and purpose for portraiture, employing actual human ashes to create meditative images of deceased people, either at their own behest or that of their families.

The exhibition was particularly relevant and timely in light of the Vatican’s response on October 25th to what it called an “unstoppable increase” in cremation and its issuance of guidelines barring the scattering of ashes “in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way.” The Vatican decreed that the ashes of loved ones have no place in the home, and certainly not in jewelry. While the Vatican was silent on the use of ashes in painting, we can assume that Hatry’s work falls outside its newly articulated “canonical norms” and within its idea of “unfitting or superstitious practices.”

The project was 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.

During the run of the exhibition, panel discussions, readings, concerts, conversations, and spoken word performances relating to death, including both participating authors and others, took place at a number of locations throughout New York City. The events and their details were announced on both Ubu Gallery’s and the artist’s websites.

Heide Hatry

Exhibition checklist
Press release

Heide Hatry: Icons in Ash, a collaborative conceptual artist’s book of 268 pages and including 19 images, is available from the Ubu Gallery store.

Art Al Limite / Heide Hatry: Forcing the Eye to Return / May 2017 / Elisa Massardo / 5 reproductions / pdf

The Brooklyn Rail / IN CONVERSATION: HEIDE HATRY with Thyrza Nichols Goodeve and Laila Pedro / May 1, 2017 / 5 reproductions
L’Œil de la Photographie / The deceased of Heide Hatry / April 18, 2017 / Hallie Neely / 4 reproductions
Politiken / Artist makes portraits of deceased human ashes/ April 3, 2017 / 10 reproductions
Blouinartinfo / Heide Hatry’s ‘Icons in Ash: Cremation Portraits’ at Ubu Gallery, New York / March 23, 2017 / 1 reproduction (subscription only)
Musée / Women Crush Wednesday: Heide Hatry / March 22, 2017 / 11 reproductions
Sputnik International / ‘Icons in Ash’: Artist Uses Cremated Remains to Draw Portraits of the Dead / March 20, 2017 / 5 reproductions
Hyperallergic / Memorial Portraits Made with the Subjects’ Ashes / March 20, 2017 / Allison Meier / 11 reproductions
Melville House / On the cremains portraitist of “Good Day, New York” / March 13, 2017 / Ian Dreiblatt
Artcritical / Latest Podcast: The Review Panel from March 6/ March 9, 2017 / 11 reproductions
Fox 5 News / To Tell The Truth / March 3, 2017 (video)
Fox 5 News / To Tell The Truth: Part 2 / March 3, 2017 (video)
Yahoo! News / Artist creates portraits of dead people using their own ASHES / March 1, 2017 / David Harding / 3 reproductions
Metro News UK / Artist creates portraits of dead people using their own remains / March 1, 2017 / Nicole Morley / 3 reproductions
Daily Mail / Mail Online / Painter creates portraits of dead people using their own remains embedded in wax / February 28, 2017 / James Dunn / 3 reproductions
Tý / Kremační portréty/ / February 28, 2017 / 2 reproductions
New York Post / Page Six / February 22, 2017 / Oli Coleman
Culture Catch / Ashes to Ashes… / January 21, 2017 / Milree Hughes / 3 reproductions
Riot Material / Portrayals in Bone: Heide Hatry’s Cremation Portraits / January 14, 2017 / Phoebe Hoban / 9 reproductions
Art in America / Exhibitions: The Lookout / January 9, 2017 / 1 reproduction

Art F City / This Week’s Must See Art: Nightmares Before Christmas / December 12, 2016 / Michael Anthony Farley / 1 reproduction
The Writer in the Gutter / Ashes to Ashes, Ashes to Art / December 12, 2016 / Lou Boxer / 7 reproductions

Heide Hatry: Icons in Ash

Unlike the traditional means of memorializing the dead in art, these human ash portraits propose an intimate and direct means of engaging their memory, and their substance, rather than the fairly detached, abstract, heroic, or clinical approaches that have typified modern western art and funerary practice. Three different techniques have been used to create slightly different effects:
(a) Loose ash particles from the person depicted (combined with pulverized birch coal and white marble dust) are applied in a painstaking mosaic process into beeswax, bedding the ash gently into the wax.
(b) Ink drawings or air-brush paintings are created directly upon a pure and slightly uneven ash surface.
(c) Ink drawings or air-brush paintings are created upon an emulsion of ashes and binder, giving the portrait the feeling and texture of a fresco mural painting.

Generally, works presented in the exhibition are not for sale. Heide Hatry is accepting commissions to create personalized images of your loved one, including your pet. Requirements are a digitized version of a quality photograph of the subject and a cupful of the deceased’s ashes.