The Good Death Roundtable: Art and Death

Taught by:
Bethany Tabor Toccarra Thomas Joanna Ebenstein
Wednesday, Apr 05
First Wednesdays
7 - 9:00pm
Free with RSVP

Each of us will die. And, despite impressive scientific and medical triumphs, we have not managed to vanquish death or even definitively find out what happens to us when we die.

The great mystery of death has inspired artists and makers in the creation of objects and images that entwine death and beauty in ways surprising to a contemporary sensibility. This heavily illustrated, wide ranging talk will take you on a tour of some of the most remarkable and fascinating artifacts from mankind’s eternal need to make sense of his own morality, spanning many centuries, mediums, and intended usages.

About this roundtable series:

The Good Death roundtable is a forum that seeks to foster a better relationship with our mortality. Through the exploration of a history of death rituals, an examination of what death looks like presently, and a speculation on our own death and cultural attitudes toward death in the future, we will contemplate death in an effort of preparedness and understanding.


Bethany Tabor is a classically trained ballet dancer-turned-writer and researcher who is persistently exploring themes of death and dying in the realm of performance art. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Performance Studies from New York University where she examined the politics of decomposition as it relates to reenactment and reperformance. She is currently the Technology Programs Manager at Pioneer Works.  

Toccarra Thomas is a Brooklyn-based video​ and performance​ artist and arts programmer. ​She received ​a B.A. in Anthropology and Film Studies​ from Smith College and ​a M.A. in Media Studies at ​The ​New School. A recipient of the Smithsonian Research Training Fellowship (2003) and the Mellon Mays undergraduate Fellowship (2004-2006), ​she has researched and worked in examining cultural arts practices in various parts of the world, including South Africa.​ She co-founded and directed the first iteration of The Unmentionables Film Festival​ (2015) at Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem.

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, curator, writer, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was cofounder (with Tracy Hurley Martin) and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. She co-curated (with Evan Michelson) the award-winning exhibition The Art of Mourning, authored The Anatomical Venus and co-edited (with Colin Dickey) The Morbid Anatomy Anthology. She is currently working on a book about Art and Death to be released this October with Thames and Hudson. Ebenstein’s writing and photography have been published and exhibited internationally, and she speaks regularly around the world on topics at the inspections of art and medicine, death and culture.