Loss & Legacy: 2023 Spring Series Archive

Loss & Legacy


Spring Series Overview

Our 2023 philosophy symposia series looks at what it means to be at the interface of loss and legacy.  In Spring, we examined the question “How do we think about grief?” during our symposium (held at the Helena Avenue Theater on April 19th) and considered the business of death by way of a film & community conversation (conducted in Reeder’s Alley on May 3rd).

Our symposia series was supported in part by grants from the Helena Area Community Foundation, Humanities Montana, and the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization.  Community partners and sponsors included Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel, the Helena Avenue Theater, and Helena Civic Television.

In this philosophy symposium we looked at grief and death through the lens of aesthetics, combining art, literature, history, culture and science into a broad, unified philosophical and humanistic understanding.

Our symposium featured guests scholars Krys Holmes, Tim Holmes & Ashby Kinch and was facilitated by Merlin Student Scholar Fellow, Julianna Breit.  

The first part of our evening involved individual presentations by each of the scholars — all of whom offered different ways in to thinking about grief.  The second part of our evening was a combination of Q & A and community conversation.  And, of course, all of this was designed with a touch of theatrical, aesthetic flair.

Learn more about our guest speakers below & watch a video recording of the symposium!

In this gathering facilitated by Merlin Student Scholar Fellow Julianna Breit we watched documentary A Certain Kind of Death.  Raw, honest, and void of pretense about death, this award-winning documentary offered a real world look into what happens behind-the-scenes and the kinds of considerations and logistical tasks in play. Told from the perspective of death workers, the film provided vivid snapshots of the business side of death — e.g., who gets called when a deceased person is discovered, how possessions are handled, and what happens when a body is unclaimed and/or there is no next of kin. 

In addition to providing a warm, philosophical forum for exploring death, this documentary invited rich conversation about preparation for death (for self and others), what roles death workers play, the impact & insights drawn from such work — as well questions it raises about how we think about death and a plethora of broader social & philosophical considerations therein.

Symposium Video

Guest Scholars

Krys Holmes

About Krys

Krys Holmes is author of Montana: Stories of the Land, adopted statewide as the Montana history textbook in public schools. Her poems, essays, and short stories have been published in various local and regional literary magazines and anthologies. She lives in the Elkhorn Mountains outside Helena.  Krys is also the Director at the Myrna Loy Arts & Cultural Center and interim director at the Holter Art Museum.

Tim Holmes

About Tim

Tim Holmes is the first American artist ever invited to give a solo exhibit at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the world’s largest art museum, where his sculptures remain on permanent exhibit. His work has gained notice among some of the world’s peacemakers, from the Chinese dissident students of Tiananmen Square to the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Jimmy Carter, Czech hero Vaclav Havel, and the late Coretta Scott King are among Holmes’ best-known collectors.

Holmes has created many international projects such as the U.N. Women’s Peace Prize and other peace awards. He has worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in efforts to create an international peace center on Robben Island, the gulag where President Nelson Mandela and thousands of others were imprisoned during the dark apartheid years and on South Africa’s bid for the Olympics. Though Holmes is most well known for sculpture he works in a variety of media, all pointing toward a more responsive, cooperative and sustainable future. 

Ashby Kinch

About Ashby

Ashby Kinch is a professor of English literature specializing in the literature of the medieval period, particularly late medieval literature.  He has published recent articles on neuroscience and literature, as well as word-image relations in both medieval literature and in the work of a contemporary American poet, Cole Swensen. He is a co-PI on a Keck Foundation grant to develop an integrated curriculum in neuroscience across multiple disciplines, and serves on the Institute of Health and Humanities, and the Humanities Institute at the University of Montana. Ashby has extended his research and thinking on death into public humanities projects, including funding from the Institute of Health and Humanities to develop writing workshops on death, and to produce a modern adaptation of a 15th century multi-media art form known as the “Dance of Death.” Since fall 2017, he has served as associate dean of the graduate school.

Thank You & Much Gratitude…

to our student scholar fellow and facilitator, our guest scholars, our volunteers, our grantors, community partners & sponsors, and the Helena community for bringing so much life and beauty to this project.

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