The School of the Dead ?

Angela Hennessy portrait

In this moment that we are alive, death is all around us. Yet many of us have inherited a death-phobic orientation to life that undermines the ability to be present with mortality.

Each death—literal or symbolic, intimate or anonymous, violent or kind—is an opportunity to review our personal and cultural narratives of loss. For this reflection, let us begin at the end.

Angela Hennessy is an Oakland-based artist and Associate Professor at California College of the Arts where she teaches courses on visual and cultural narratives of death and contemporary art. Through writing, studio work, and performance, her practice questions assumptions about Death and the Dead themselves.

In 2015, she survived a gunshot wound while interrupting a violent assault on the street in front of her house. She wrote her manifesto, “The School of the Dead” while recovering.

Hennessy volunteers with hospice and works with families on home funerals, death vigils, and grief rituals. She is certified in the Grief Recovery Method and has trained with Final Passages and the International End of Life Doula Association. She serves on the advisory boards of Recompose and Death Salon.