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Life Lessons From Portraits of the Dying

Through drawings and audio clips, a young artist shares the wisdom of those in hospice

By Bryce Kirchoff

Death and dying is a hot topic these days, yet discussions about what this process is like to those experiencing it are not really part of our social consciousness.

While volunteering in hospice care, 29-year-old artist Claudia Biçen found inspiration in this critical period of life. During the past two years, she created pencil and cut-out portraits of people in hospice care and paired them with audio clips where they talk about the nearness of death and how that has reshaped their understanding of life.

“Birth and death — these two moments of life are really sacred, and everything in between is kind of the madness of life,” Biçen recently told the Washington Post. One of her portraits — of retired barber Jenny Miller — is currently on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Listen to the story of Harlan, another one of Biçen's portrait subjects:

Read more about Biçen's work and hear other stories in the Washington Post.

Bryce Kirchoff has produced web and social media campaigns for organizations at all levels of the media industry and also has experience launching community engagement initiatives, building websites and crafting social campaigns. He holds a master’s of science degree in New Media Management from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and lives in Los Angeles. Read More
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