Missouri artist Adam Brown offers a unique memorial service to those seeking to remember deceased loved ones: He paints their portraits using paint mixed with ashes. He doesn’t just limit his services to human beings, either: He’ll do pet portraits, as well. It’s surprisingly affordable, if you’re into that kind of thing.
After Brown’s clients submit a sampling of sandy ashes, the artist dons a pair of gloves and mixes them with paint to create personalized renditions and imaginings of the dead that span from straight black and white portraiture to dreamy colored abstractions. He carefully preserves any and all unused ashes, ultimately returning them to his client.
The project, titled Ashes to Art, poignantly aims to reconstruct the deconstructed body, fixing delicate cremains with glue and paint; in this way, his paintings work to encapsulate the entirety of the human body and lifetime into one sly smile, one glint of the eye, or one splash of color.
Brown’s ambitious body of work subverts morbid thoughts on human remains, adopting the medium to create shockingly cheerful faces, heavily textured hands, and vividly yellow flames. The idea of permanence figures prominently into the work; not unlike the popular ritualistic scattering of ashes over the sea, his landscape paintings elegantly incorporate the corporeal into the seemingly eternal earth, everlasting sky, or immovable mountain.