Summer 2006

Inventory / Beloved

Reading between the lines of the obituaries

Kate Ferencz

“Inventory” is a column that examines or presents a list, catalogue, or register.

For this drawing, taken from a series called “Three Days For Trying To Care About Dead People I’ve Never Met,” I read the Providence Journal obituaries, making note of whether or not each of the deceased was specifically described as being “beloved.” Based on this criterion, I made drawings dividing the dead into “beloved” and “not necessarily beloved” categories. In each section, I re-drew the little portraits that had been printed in the newspaper; under each, I wrote the person’s name and age. I tried to get accurate likenesses, treating everyone the same regardless of whether they were beloved or not.

I wanted to use the act of drawing these dead strangers as a way of spending time with them. It’s counter-intuitive to be sincerely affected by the death of someone I never knew; these drawings are an attempt to organize, both on paper and in my mind, forces that are beyond my control or understanding. I can’t really miss or love the people depicted in these drawings, but I wanted at least to make an effort to recognize their faces.

Kate Ferencz is an artist who until recently lived in Providence.