THREAD Collaborative: “A Living Eulogy”

Untitled design (9)  

Funerals can be marked by many things—grief, regret, a sense of closure, the finality of death, awkwardness, a sense of loss, tears and laughter mixed together—but most often, they are marked by storytelling. At the funeral of a loved one, our daily rhythms pause and time seems to stand still while stories are told. These stories together construct a tapestry of the many different lives impacted and hearts connected to this person who is now gone from among us.

A few months ago, at the beginning of the new year, Amanda Reynolds and one of her friends both had occasion to attend funerals. They considered the stories they heard and the eulogies given. Three years ago, they had worked together to start a collaborative project called THREAD, which focuses on artistic, documentary-style storytelling in the Indianapolis community. Their thoughts and discussions about the story aspect of eulogies over the past several months led to the idea for their multimedia exhibit, “A Living Eulogy,” which opens this Friday (April 1st) in the City Gallery.

Reynolds is a professional photographer, former art director and mother of two residing in Herron-Morton Place. She described the conceptual goal of the exhibit thus: to inspire those of us who see it to tell the people in our lives how much they matter, and to help instill a deep sensitivity to—and gratitude for—our community and connectedness to others. She explained, “Tomorrow isn’t promised. What if we told people what they mean to us, now? Before they’re gone?” THREAD explains on its social media page, “We live in a world that shies away from speaking about death. As a result, we often neglect to express our gratitude for the living.”

Reynolds and her partners at THREAD aim to achieve this effect through a video project in which they have captured on film the powerful emotions and reactions of four pairs of people who live and work in urban Indy. Each pair is connected by a “living eulogy” letter, read aloud by the writer to the recipient. One pair is a son reading to his father; another is a woman reading to an empty chair, representing her recently departed loved one. All of the participants in this project are hearing their letter for the first time in the film. Video projectors will be suspended from the ceiling, with temporary walls serving as screens in the City Gallery space.

THREAD began three years ago as a project by a group of collaborators with a shared vision and diverse talents, with the goal of telling stories—honest, authentic, meaningful stories—about real people, communities and life in Indianapolis. THREAD’s website states its purpose and the reason behind the name: “We are all connected by an invisible thread. Our experiences are unique, yet we share such a basic need. We long for a space to tell our story and to listen to others tell theirs. THREAD is devoted to sharing these stories. This is documentation of the very fabric that connects our community.”