In an exhibition of burnished graphite drawings based on cemetery maps, artist Jeanne Heifetz acknowledges the universal human drive to create beauty, order, and ritual in the face of our mortality.
Artist statement about the exhibition: In this series, I challenged myself to confront something that terrifies me.
I have had death panics since I was eight years old. Ironically, the only real estate I am ever likely to own is a parcel of eight cemetery plots I inherited from my grandfather. The deed to the plots came with a map of the cemetery, which seemed like the logical place to begin to address my fear. Each drawing in this series is based on the map of a different Jewish cemetery, including the ones where my own relatives are buried. (I am not religious, but the historical and familial connection was important: these are all places I could be buried, even though I remain completely unreconciled to the idea of my own death.)
I can’t claim that drawing the maps allays my panic. Death remains entirely unknowable terrain: the map can never be the territory. And yet, stripped of identifying text, the cemeteries’ abstract forms are mysteriously compelling, grounding me in the universal human drive to create beauty, order, and ritual in the face of our own mortality.