Death Over Dinner

Death Over Dinner

Artist and Host: Melissa Day
April 25th, 7-10pm

About the Evening…

Interdisciplinary artist and experimental designer Mel Day recently stumbled upon the work of a group of healthcare and wellness leaders who are committed to breaking the taboo regarding conversations about the end of life. They launched the website and interactive adventure, “Let’s have Dinner and Talk about Death.”

Day has since hosted her own customized version of these dinners at various locations (including an OpenIDEO meet-up and with a class of UCBerkeley students). The most recent event took place at Manresa Gallery on April 25th with the artists featured in Manresa Gallery’s current show Thresholds of Faith as well as additional guests of the gallery and artists.

For this special dinner event, Day led participants through a menu of conversation prompts and thinking processes. She hosted an activity enabling us to partake in a unique discussion resulting in the creation of memorial objects in honor of those no longer with us.

The event was not meant to be a morbid experience, but instead a very human one. Over dinner we raised a generous glass to each other and our loved ones, we considered what we want, both in life, and during its closure. Poetically pragmatic, the objective of the dinner was to transform and empower seemingly difficult conversations about the unknown-about absence, ambiguity, and uncertainty-into an experience of generous engagement, radical empathy, and presence.

Joined by the artists (Taraneh Hemami, Lynn Marie Kirby, Cara Levine, and Ali Naschke-Messing) of Thresholds of Faith: Four Entries into the Beyond exhibition, we gathered and broke bread together inside the beautiful and resonant space outside of Manresa Gallery. Participants left with a thoughtful-sacred-object-in-the-making and an unusually intimate
collaborative experience.


About Melissa Day

Ambivalent, tender, stumbling, sometimes funny, Mel Day’s interdisciplinary work probes our individual and collective wanderings when our belief systems-of all kinds-falter and our questions deepen. Ancient mystics called this “radical dread”. Day believes that exploring radical dread leads us away from formulaic truths and draws us toward paradox, empathy, and sincerity of heart. Her multi-media contemplative experiments-including immersive film and sound installations, a recent series of study guides for experimental contemplatives, open innovation collaborations, and paintings-seek to lay groundwork for a dialogue across potentially insular groups and ideas.

Some of you might remember Melissa Day’s work from the past Manresa Gallery exhibition called Dialoguing with Sacred Texts, curated by Michelle Townsend.
Day’s work has been featured both nationally and internationally at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure Art Gallery, San Francisco Film Society, The Berlin Office in Germany, Peak Gallery in Toronto, Pacific Film Archive and Berkeley Art Museum and Santa Clara University. Recent residencies include the Headlands Center for the Arts, Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus Residency, a Visiting Artist Residency at the Experimental Media Arts Lab (Stanford University), Djerassi Resident Artist Program and a collaborative residency at The Lab in San Francisco. Day was recently recognized for her experimental design work by OpenIDEO. She has also received awards from San Francisco Foundation’s Murphy Fellowship in the Fine Arts, Eisner Prize in the Creative Arts from UC Berkeley, Sam Francis Distinguished Alumni Award and an Explorations Award from the Canada Council. She currently teaches at Santa Clara University and has been a visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley and the University of Toronto & Sheridan College. Day holds an MFA from UC Berkeley and a BA from Queen’s University, Canada, with a year’s study at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.