Contributors: Charles Clary

Mors Mortis Museum is proud to feature Charles Clary who will contribute to the Public Education and Engagement in Museums and Heritage section of the upcoming Routledge handbook: Museums, Heritage, and Death with his work titled: Transforming Memento Mori: A Contemporary Lens.

Charles says that his work stems from the loss of both his mother and father due to smoking, and this is what got him interested in memento mori. “Remembering that one day you will die, and a reinvestigation of my own childhood trauma, abuse, and mortality. Through these investigations I came to terms with the trauma of my childhood and the lack of memories I actually have,” he says. He then elaborates on how picture frames are usually reserved for cherished memories such as a family outing, birthday parties, or weddings. He explains, “My work seeks to investigate these moments as they force us to make decisions, decisions that lead to life changing events. We either rise to the occasion or sink into despair. Pulling from the ideation of mourning jewelry, hair wreaths, and Victorian sitting rooms, my work mimics and encapsulates trauma within the fragility of paper.”

Charles says that his most meaningful moment is realizing that his work tapped into a collective trauma that both him and his viewers share. “I revel in this notion that we all carry around our own beautiful scars from inflicted trauma and that we all have found some way to cope with and move through these moments,” he says. 

Charles is currently exploring the contemporary usage of memento mori and how broad that term can be when applied to the visual arts. He says, “My work becomes echoes from the past while at the same time asserting itself as narratives of the present.”

He also says, “death work is integral to every component of my current artistic practice/research both conceptually and literally. My work seeks to ease the stigma of trauma and death making it something that resonates rather than decimates.”

Charles says that his favorite museum is the Pitt Rivers Museum. You can also find him on Instagram under the name @charlesclary, or his website

By Jesse Morgan, a Communication and Photography Student at Coastal Carolina University, USA. 

Published by katiestringerclary

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