I felt enthusiastic when I first saw the original portrait of my mother. I had seen the artwork before in an email, but seeing the original touched me to the core. The mosaic portrait looks exactly as the photo I gave to Heide, it’s amazing! Just absolutely perfect! And to live with my mother's embodied portrait is really different: I put the memorial portrait in a place where I can see it first thing in the morning and I say "good morning" and it makes me feel wonderful. It didn’t change my relationship to my mother, because I was always very close to her, but I feel her presence more than before and I feel thankful and it makes me happy to have her back in this beautiful portrait.
Isabelle Baumann (daughter of Germaine Alice Alphonsine Charbonneau. See her portrait here)
Heide Hatry’s portraits in ash of my father and younger brother are so beautiful and moving. It’s difficult to express the connection one feels with their images knowing that part of their essence is utilized in creating them. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, there is something quite poetic and enriching. The moments I spend with their images are like a prayer in the most open, honest, and connected sense of that act.
How can I put into words the emotions that have been both focused and magnified – I mean this in the most positive way – by the amazing gift of artistic talent, the astonishing feeling of connection and profound sense of comfort I feel, seeing the personalized image of my sister through her ashes? Quite frankly, I can’t. The experience is so personal and so moving that words just don’t seem adequate to convey it.
I had just graduated as a Funeral Director when my sister passed away 12 years ago. It was her desire to be scattered after cremation, but my family and I have not been able to do it because we still find comfort in having her at home. I met Heide Hatry, the artist of Icons in Ash at a funeral industry conference one year ago and was drawn to the powerful portraits she had exhibited there and was amazed by her artistic ability to create portraits out of the cremated remains of loved ones. I was both impressed and relieved to discover that just a small portion of cremated remains was needed to make them, which meant that I could keep my sister close and still honor her wish to be scattered.
The personal memorial piece that Heide created of my sister, Tammy Hoefer, is far beyond a photograph or even an oil portrait. It’s not just an image; it’s not even just art. And it has given comfort to our family in ways we could never have imagined. It is as if she has her identity again: my sister was in a plastic bag inside an urn, with a number as her only identification, and now she is with us in this beautiful portrait of herself. We can recognize her again and feel her beautiful spirit every time we look at her.
The world of grief has received an angel in the talented hands and generous heart of Heide Hatry. Through my work, I am deeply aware of the many extraordinary and poignant ways that human beings have remembered and honored their dead, and I believe that these portraits in ash represent a fundamental new development, the most personalized I’ve come across, and one that holds the promise of important change in our very attitude toward the place of death in our lives.
Genevieve Keeney, President of the National Museum of Funeral History (Sister of Tammy Hoefer. To see her portrait click here)
I don’t know how you did that. Although the portrait of my mother is just like the photograph, it has an energy or a presence that no photograph ever has. It’s magical. Thank you so very much!
My father loved art and he was very excited when I asked him how he would feel about commissioning an Icons in Ash portrait from his cremated ashes. He loved the idea, and I only wish he could see that it is even more beautiful than we had expected. I think he also felt grateful, that I really wanted his portrait, wanted him around, when he would be gone...
Heide, I love the portrait of my mother so much. It's an amazing artwork, and the fact, that it is a relic and an icon, I really appreciate. I was brought up Catholic in Russia and would have never expected to own a relic nor an icon, and now I kind of own both in one. When I put it on the mantle of my fireplace, the room turned into a sacred space. I have been enriched by this portrait more than I'd ever expected and feel deeply grateful.
Thank you so much, Heide, Suzanne is beautiful. At the beginning I had to turn the portrait around sometimes (make it face the wall), because it was too hard to look at her, knowing that what I was looking at are her cremated remains, but now we "communicate." I talk to her, and it feels like she is "listening" to me. It's my favorite "piece" in my apartment, I'm so happy that I learned about your Icons in Ash in time but especially that I dared to actually commission the portrait. I had hesitated because Suzanne had instructed us to scatter her ashes at the places she loved, and am so grateful that my brother agreed that I could keep a handful in order to have her portrait done. She would have loved it and I certainly love to experience her "presence" on a daily basis.
My sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness years ago, but I could never fathom her death, even the day she died. Saying goodbye to our parents is a part of life, but it feels as though sisters can spend their entire lives together. My beautiful cremation portrait has made such a difficult loss more bearable. Thank you, Heide.
As the oldest sibling, it was my responsibility to look after my father’s ashes. I knew right away that they couldn’t be buried. My three siblings and I all live in different parts of the country. If he was buried, we would only be able to visit him a few more times in the span of our lives. When I heard of Hatry’s cremation portraits, I knew that I wanted one for myself. I thought that my siblings would split the ashes, but once I told them about the portrait, they each wanted one for themselves. Now we all have a piece of dad, right at home. It’s wonderful.
I heard of your portraits and thought that I needed to turn the cold ashes into my mother. When I received the portrait, I settled it into the designated spot on my bookshelf. It looked so right, but I could barely look at it. Seeing my mama again was like looking at the sun, painful but warming my soul. With my heartfelt gratitude.