A SHRINE FOR THE LOST: The Sixth Extinction
Where I live in Tucson, Arizona, the Hispanic Memorial Tradition of Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is annually celebrated at the beginning of November by the entire community. I wanted to remember the thousands of fellow Beings that are gone and leaving every day in the course of what Elizabeth Kolbert termed the Sixth Extinction. This is a grief hard to fathom because they disappear silently, un-grieved, un-mourned, and un-named. And as they disappear the Balance of nature begins to fragment, endangering our human species as well. I wanted to honor recently extinct and endangered species by NAMING them. Visually, and as an actual Litany as well. I wanted to remember the White Rhino, or the Rodriguez Giant Tortoise, or the Sumatran Tiger, or the Xerces Blue Butterfly………. so very many. I began compiling a list. I did not realize the magnitude of that long list: it kept growing until I had panels from the ceiling to the floor.
My “Shrine” grew to include a self-published Book, four 6 foot wall-hung Panels, and an accompanying 10 minute Video made in collaboration with artist Kathy Keler. It will be shown at the Parliament of World Religions in 2023. It is my hope that the exhibit will travel in the future to other venues as an educational Memorial. There have been 5 previous mass extinctions of species on Earth. We are the cause of the 6th Extinction.