Advance Praise: Bert Crenca

There is no way to objectively capture in totality the zeitgeist of the moment, year, decade. O! Relentless Death makes no such attempt, the work is purely subjective, beautifully so. Lee and Andrews’ illustrations reverberate with essence. The sum of the individual reflections does no more than demonstrate meaningful touch points that help to define our individuality.  In all a wonderful testimony of a brief moment in time of a lovable but flawed species.

–Bert Crenca, artist and founder of AS220, Providence

Advance Praise: Sarah Rainey-Smithback

For many on the left, the political upheaval of 2016 was exacerbated by what seemed like an endless parade of celebrity deaths. David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher… these were our heroes, the entertainers we turned to for solace when the realities of inequality, war, and violence began to feel like too much to handle. O! Relentless Death! Celebrities, Loss, and a Year of Mourning offers readers poems, short stories, reflections, and images to help process the grief of losing so many public figures.

–Sarah Rainey-Smithback
Associate Professor of Cultural and Critical Studies
Bowling Green State University

Advance Praise: Elsa Menendez

Advance Praise for O! Relentless Death! Celebrity, Loss and Mourning

I was about to say that I have several friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one. But the truth is I’m grieving right now too.  

My 99 year old grandmother, one of the most influential and beloved people in my life, died peacefully 3 weeks ago. I’m still grieving my father who died at 49 after a long battle with cancer.  When I think about grieving I think about release.  Yes, it’s painful and dark and overwhelming sometimes. It’s like having your heart and your lungs squeezed by some powerful internal vice-system.  You feel the light being drained out of your body.  I have felt like the vices might flatten my heart and my lungs all together, to the point of my own death. And then, somehow, little by little you go on.  And one day, when you cautiously check to see what your heart feels like, you realize that, although there are still hugely tender spots, your heart has managed to refill a few chambers with life.  There is even some paint and spackle to address some of the bigger cracks (don’t want to repair all of them - we need the cracks to let love in and out too).  It’s as if your heart has been renovated and there is a new room to visit.  One that holds space for your losses. And maybe you notice that all the juice, all the light that the grief vices squeezed out of you have left places in you cleaned out.  Ready for something new, something deeper or wiser. It’s a little Pollyanna. Not all of us get through our grief. But that possibility exists. An opportunity, a desire to rearrange the old furniture.

When we think of the things that bind us together, the ones we are willing to talk about, we typically look toward the things that make us angry.  The political climate in our country right now is an easy point. Or we look toward the things that offer some elements of pleasure or escape. A favorite song or a celebration. But what if we follow Andrew and Lee’s invitation to come together in our grief? How might walking together through grief add dimension and traction toward our evolution, our capacity for real transformation, our healing of the separations that breed hatred and fear, our willingness to create change in the systems that need it most?

This book is exactly what it says it is–a visual meditation.  It’s a real gift. Read through it, gaze at the complexly, specifically, lovingly rendered portraits, take in the thoughtful, personal stories of connection, aspiration, influence, appreciation, loving remembrance. This book of images and words will wash through you, coaxing out your own stories about these extraordinary, elevated members of our collective experiences, surfacing the tender places in you that may need a little redemption through the art of grief. Our willingness to grieve together may be the thing we need most right now. In order to release outdated pain, anger, and fear that keeps us blocked, polarized along socio-political lines. Contributor MacKenzie Abernathy says, “Death does not translate to forever.” By honoring  and shining light on the experience of grieving, Andrew and Lee Fearnside remind us that through the channel of loss and mourning we may emerge stronger, hopeful, more unified.  

–Elsa Menéndez
Performing Arts Co-Director, National Hispanic Cultural Center

Core Artist and Assistant Director of International Relations, Tricklock Company

Facilitator, Connecting Women Leading Change.

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