Gentrification of the Dead
72 x 72 x 2
This painting--and its title--were inspired by the research of Bay Area artist and scholar Kate Laster's San Francisco Art Institute M.A. thesis "Gentrification of the Dead" (2019), which details the displacement of graves in San Francisco to make room for new housing, and the transfer of the dead to the town of Colma. A town that now has more deceased residents than living ones. I found this fascinating, and a little upsetting, so I set about making this work.
The landscape in the background is one of the views of the Peninsula, and its various towns. I combined this with lanterns and a structure that loosely resembles a sinking mausoleum to pay respect to some of these restless spirits who may have been uprooted.
This piece was also a way for me to reflect on the idea of death and the afterlife. Joseph Campbell has a quote from his book The Power of Myth that exemplifies how I feel:
"The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life's joy. One
can experience an unconditional affirmation of life only when one has