Last November I witnessed Tucson’s All Souls
Procession, America’s festal cousin to Mexico’s Dia
de los Muertos celebration. Through costumes
pretend to ignore, vainly challenge, hopelessly
fear, but finally cross.
Everyone in Art of Dying shares their
and makeup, the majority of the over 100,000 relationship with their perceived boundary
of the living to that of the dead. The Procession of relating to death while living, the many facets of
participants change their appearance from that
ends at a site where musicians, dancers, and
aerialists perform on an outdoor stage with a giant
screen backdrop. Projected on the screen are
photographs of departed loved ones, scanned
from aged paper or sourced from digital files.
Prior to the performances, participants take
their last steps of pilgrimage across the stage.
Each of the thousands of pilgrims casts a unique
shadow against the radiant faces of the dead,
blurring the ephemeral boundary we, the living,
between life and death. They share the importance
preparation, the many paths to acceptance. They
share the beauty of having crossed the boundary
while still alive, of knowing heaven on earth.
Jon Underwood devoted his life to expanding
society’s dialogue about death and dying.
This year, at 44, Jon Underwood died.
At 96, Iris Apfel does not talk about death.
We are all on a pilgrimage toward death’s
We each cast a unique shadow.
JOHN WADSWORTH, FOUNDING EDITOR AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
4 | ART OF DYING