SANTA FE, New Mexico — When Justin Crowe’s grandfather died in 2014, his funerary experience — which Crowe described as “sterilized,” “performed,” and “inauthentic” — sparked his interest in the death care industry. He heard of similar experiences when he asked other people about losing their loved ones: descriptions of disconnection and disappointment, particularly when it came to cremation. “People would talk passionately about the people who they lost, and then they would say they were keeping their remains in a closet or a garage,” Crowe told Hyperallergic. “The fact that people were keeping one of their most treasured possessions hidden away for decades was a major product design and user experience red flag.”
Crowe, who has a background in conceptual product design, went to work developing an alternative to cremated remains. For two years he was the managing editor for ConnectingDirectors.com, a funeral industry news website, and attended death care industry conferences. He got a grant to work with Los Alamos National Laboratory, and for six months they carried out hundreds of tests. Eventually they invented the technology at the heart of Parting Stone, the Santa Fe-based company that Crowe founded. Parting Stone transforms ashes into “solidified remains,” a collection of stone-like objects that use the entirety of the human or animal.
In 2017, cremation surpassed burial as the preferred form of disposition in the United States. Cremation rates have risen 25% in the last 20 years, and are expected to continue to increase in the coming decades, but there aren’t yet norms around ceremony or celebration of cremated remains. “Burial has had thousands of years to create rituals, and [cremation has] had 20 years,” said Crowe. “Really what this side of the industry needs is just some rituals. That’s what we’re hoping solidified remains is going to help resolve.” In addition to the portable and sharable stones, which offer a cleaner and more attractive alternative to cremation, Parting Stone creates containers, jewelry, and vessels to display the stones. The company officially launched in October, and almost 300 funeral home locations have contacted Parting Stone about offering solidified remains as an alternative to their clients. The staff of six will be moving into a larger space in February.
The stones themselves, which cohere due to a glass-like binder and extremely high temperatures, range from marble- to palm-sized. An average adult produces around 30 stones. About half the batches appear white, while the other half display wild color variations. Crowe and his team at the lab haven’t been able to identify any correlations, so far, about why some people’s stones come out in different colors.
Crowe attended Alfred University’s renowned ceramics program and had a career as an artist and product designer before founding Parting Stone. He always enjoyed the sales aspect of making art, which is atypical of many artists. “Art school very much separated commerce and capitalism from creativity and concept,” he said. He sees his work now as a marriage of these two dimensions. “We don’t accept such poor user experience for any other part of modern life,” he said. “Solidified remains is a technology, but it’s also a design solution.”
Guggenheim Museum Union Rallies at VIP Opening
The museum’s commitment to diversity in exhibitions rings hollow to workers who say they are not receiving a fair wage.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Great idea, concept, design and product…Congrats and success!
Cremation has a MUCH longer history than 20 years. Just ask anyone from India. There is also a group of Japanese artists that will include ashes into a ceramic glaze, typically for an urn to hold the rest of the ashes.
Comments are closed.