On Tuesday, I visited Michelle Kaisersatt’s studio in St. Peter, Minnesota. Michelle has done beautiful pottery work for years—vases, chalices, and functional dinnerware. She’s exhibited in this area and has won numerous awards.
Recently, she has made a move into creating funerary urns. She also creates keepsake memento boxes and a locket that can hold a small amount of ash. It’s the locket that drew me to Michelle’s space on Tuesday. After Kahlil died, I felt a strong need to keep something of him near me, close to my heart where he will always live. When I found out Michelle had designed a locket, I had to see it for myself. I’m glad I had an excuse to see her studio in person.
Her urns are inspired by nature; they reflect an organic shape and color. They vary in size, from small vessels that would hold a small amount of remains to large urns that are meant to keep the entirety of ashes.
Michelle and I have something in common: our art revolves around death. What we see as very natural muse, others see as something to avoid. Now that my book has been out in the world for a few months, I’ve had a number of eye-opening realizations. I’ve had a lot of great conversations with people who have stories similar to mine. They’ve shared their stories of loss and have shared their love of cemeteries. But I’ve also seen the opposite: some people do not want to talk about these things.
Michelle and I talked about the way some people hesitate to have conversations about things that surround the ritual of death—funerals, cemeteries, urns. You can look at those things and see two different things. You can see sadness, grief, loneliness, and loss. Or you can see beauty, art, colors, and hope. Maybe you see a blend of the two. But there’s a lot to miss if you overlook the things of beauty that have been created to surround this ritual. I believe it’s human instinct to want to create beauty in order to ease the pain. At least, that’s why I do it. Loss is a powerful muse.
Michelle is driven to create urns, I’m driven to create a string of words. We both aim to create a type of beauty that will resonate.
You can find Michelle’s work on her website. She also keeps a blog, which leans heavily toward spiritual issues and musings. Visit this particular post in which she explains why it’s important for her to create cremation urns. As she states on her brochure, “May you carry your loved ones’ passion for living into the future.”