Heather Pillar

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Memento Morrie: Images of Love & Loss with Morrie Schwartz image

Memento Morrie: Images of Love & Loss with Morrie Schwartz

Book and Exhibition project


Morrie Schwartz’s name is iconic largely due to the success of the best-selling memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Morrie, a Brandeis University professor, detailed his philosophies about life’s greatest lessons to his former student, Mitch, on fourteen Tuesdays. In addition, Morrie found an audience posthumously with a movie, play and the podcast, Tuesday People. Morrie’s fame continues to grow with the 25th anniversary edition of Tuesdays with Morrie and an upcoming book, The Wisdom of Morrie that will be released in April 2023.

In 1995, photographer Heather Pillar quietly documented Morrie Schwartz’s last six months as a self-assigned project while at Brandeis. With Morrie, she created an initial show of 20 photographs illustrating Morrie’s aphorisms about love and loss and exhibited it at Brandeis in September 1995 as Morrie wanted to see the exhibition before he died. Heather completed the project with more images up until Morrie’s death on November 4, 1995 and afterward at the grave. The entire body of work has never been seen as a whole.

The updated book and exhibition will include 40-50 images of Morrie Schwartz with short captions and essays along with some audio files to accompany images. The images illustrate Morrie’s philosophy regarding dying with dignity and how he surrounded himself with family, friends and caregivers who helped ease his pain with massage, acupuncture, and meditation. These photographs initiate inquiry regarding end-of-life discussions which help people come to terms with living and dying with dignity.

Heather Pillar was a news and documentary photographer before teaching in international schools in seven countries over four continents in 25 years. Recently repatriated, Heather’s exploration of her negatives expands the original story of Morrie’s philosophies in a visual format. In this era of pandemics, an older population and a failing healthcare system, there are no easy solutions to dying with dignity. Heather has experienced how other cultures view life and death and discovered that Morrie’s philosophies are universal.