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The Bardo ∞ Project is legacy projects for artists

The Bardo ∞ Project explores creativity as a form of spiritual care in collaborations with artists facing life-limiting diseases nationwide to establish their legacy.

A resource by Marne Lucas

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Western society avoids confronting death. We are conditioned to treat people with terminal diagnoses in a fragile manner and not as themselves. I collaborate with dying artists to make their lives vibrant, and facilitate legacy projects to celebrate their life’s work. I document the process and present works by my collaborators. “Bardo” is the Tibetan word for the transitional existence between death and rebirth. Living with life-limiting illness and the dying process are similarly "in between" states and are opportunity for introspection and honesty.

As artistic collaborator I assist the dying to arrive at peace and acceptance within a short time frame, making their portrait, conduct interviews, and aid them in defining their creative legacy via unique and collaborative works. I aid these artists to gain agency in actively participating in their own end of life process, and advocate for citizens to consider their own choices; the philosophical impact of making plans about one’s death provides control and facilitates mind and body integration. I travel nationwide to work with these individuals in person and virtually. I present relics from these journeys to illuminate the positive effects of art, and educate the public about end of life care options. The artists and their estate donate one work to the project’s permanent collection to continue to be exhibited beyond their lifespan, keeping their memory alive. Public facing arts programming allows viewers to engage with mortality, beauty and creativity, and includes advocacy and education on end of life care planning. The work sparks public dialogue about what constitutes a “good death”.

Towards this endeavor I trained via INELDA to be an end of life doula, a role that assists the dying and their families. I work as a private practice doula in Manhattan. This work continues to inform and enhance my artistic social practice work in the Bardo ∞ Project.

I am currently seeking artist collaborators for the Bardo ∞ Project. Please contact me for details. -Marne Lucas

A video about my artist residency at the Arts/Industry program at the Kohler Co. factory where I made the first related sculptural work.


Consider making a tax deductible donation to Bardo ∞ Project

My Inspiration

My first Bardo ∞ Project collaborator was the late Brooklyn photographer Chris Brunkhart (1967-2016). A self-taught photographer, Chris was known as the “Ansel Adams” of the newly emerging sport of snowboarding in the 1990’s, giving the sport a new stark look. His friends called him “Dark Star”. Chris and I had become fast friends when he moved from Oregon to New York with his partner Zeke, bonding over art, photography, nature and queer community. One year into his new life in New York, Chris began having health issues. After an emergency room visit and three weeks into a battery of tests I received a phone call from Chris. He gave me the bad news- a diagnosis of stage four colon cancer with a less than 5% chance at life for two years. I asked him what the good news could be? Chris said that he would be my first Bardo ∞ Project artist collaborator. He was one of very few people who knew of my desire to start this challenging project. I soon became part of Chris’ cancer journey until the end with he and his partner Zeke; together we would ensure that he make his legacy work. The couple moved back to Portland, Oregon for medical care. We shared in his intense output of creativity throughout his 16-month cancer battle, enduring palliative chemotherapy, waning energy and rapidly declining health. Chris chose to face death by making art non-stop, even if it taxed his health. I acted as photo assistant and doula on his bucket-list and honeymoon trip to Iceland with his husband Zeke, so that he could make his last body of work. After returning to the USA he was able to produce 'Borderless Space' a limited edition monograph and exhibition just ten days before he died from colon cancer at age 47. I am forever indebted and honored to have been Chris’ friend and collaborator. His legacy lives on his striking photography.

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