Have you seen these very moving images contained in the series entitled, Stardust and Ashes, shown below, by Shannon Johnstone? I found these images to be remarkably touching and beautiful. According to Johnstone, “I made these cyanotypes with the ashes of euthanized homeless animals from an animal shelter’s crematorium. These animals died with nobody to mourn their passing, except maybe a few overwhelmed shelter workers. I hope these images serve as a memorial to these animals, who were nobody and nothing. Turned to dust and returned to the cosmos, they become everyone and everything. Just as we all will someday. Using my own breath and fingers to manipulate the ashes, I work the ashes into celestial configurations while the sun exposes the cyanotype turning the negative space to a Prussian blue. With these images I hope to mourn the passing of thousands of our forgotten companions, and remind us that we are all connected and headed for the same fate: reduced to dust and returned to the stars.”
“As I am working, I am quite aware that I am working with deceased animals who were not lucky enough to find a home,” according to Johnstone. “It is really important to me to treat their ashes with respect and dignity.” On hot days, she sweats onto the fabric, leaving marks. It used to upset her, but now she lets her own body–her breath and hands–interact with the ashes to create a picture. The final prints are eight by ten inches, and she also makes giant murals at five by seven feet. Because they are fabric, the sun shines through them.
Stardust and Ashes is a reminder of the impermanence of life and the recklessness with which we humans treat our fellow creatures.
All images are courtesy of Mary Shannon Johnstone.