"final days"
photographs by hasna muhammad

april 7 - june 1, 2018

Opening reception Saturday, April 7, 2 pm - 4 pm

 "The Public" © Hasna Muhammad

"The Public" © Hasna Muhammad

FINAL DAYS is a collection of photographs by Hasna Muhammad, a photographer, filmmaker, writer, and educator who lives in Putnam County, New York. It is both a personal and public body of documentary photography, capturing the final celebrations of the lives of her parents, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, who were both actors and activists, as well as the final days of her cousins, Donald L. Miller and Karen Fletcher, her father-friend Dr. Beny Primm, and her friend Sara Myers. 

artist's statement

My father passed away unexpectedly on Friday, February 4, 2005, and we had six ceremonial celebrations of his final days: a private wake at McClanahan's Funeral Home; a public viewing at Abyssinian Baptist Church; a public funeral at The Riverside Church; the private Mason's ceremony; a private cremation service at Ferncliff Cemetery; and the private temporary burial of his ashes in the front yard of our family home. Because I wanted to hold on to my father; because I wanted to remember everything that happened—what I saw, what I felt; and because I am a photographer, I took hundreds of images during those final days as well as the days that surrounded them. 

I took hundreds more photographs for the same reason when my mother passed away nine years later. For her final days, we held a private funeral at McClanahan's, her private cremation service at Ferncliff, and her public memorial service at The Riverside Church. As my parents requested, we privately co-mingled their ashes and placed them into one urn which we subsequently buried at Ferncliff at the 11th and last ceremony of their final days.  

 "Lowering the Lid" © Hasna Muhammad

"Lowering the Lid" © Hasna Muhammad

All of the images that I took provide a private healing space as well as a public tribute to my parents' legacies. Lowering the Lid was taken during the moment when the family closed the lid of my mother's casket. The Public was taken in a stairwell at Abyssinian where through leaded glass windows I saw other photographers taking photos of my father's casket in the hearse on the street below. The People was taken when I was making remarks from the chancel at Riverside during my father's funeral and asked the congregation to sit up straight and smile so I could take a picture of them. 

FINAL DAYS is a collection of some of the photographs taken during the celebrations of life after the deaths of my parents, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. This collection also includes photographs from the final days of my cousins, Donald L. Miller and Karen Fletcher; my father-friend, Dr. Beny Primm; and my friend, Sara Myers. FINAL DAYS captures some of the personal, ceremonial, and farewell rituals that they wanted for themselves and that we wanted for them. 

About the Artist

Hasna Muhammad is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer who uses art to bring light to social and human conditions and to draw attention to the extraordinary in the ordinary. Her collections include, Kenneth Chamberlain (It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over) about a son's fight against police brutality and Sara about the final months of her friend with ALS. Sum of 7 Billion features her photographs of people, and Indestreet is a collection of her street photography. Hasna's portraits of instruments and photographs of musicians and the music scene are included in her collection, My Life With Guitars. Hasna's current projects include the photographic essay Places To Stand which is about growing up in and moving out of her childhood home, and My Mother's Clothes, a collection of photographs of family, friends, and colleagues in clothes made or worn by her mother.

Photographs from Hasna's Jazz at Lincoln Center (J@LC) series are presently on display at the Dwyer Center in Harlem, NY.  She has exhibited at the Still River Editions Gallery in Danbury, CT; the Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY; the Bridges Cultural Center in Cleveland, OH; the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, MA; the New Rochelle Council on the Arts in New Rochelle, NY; and at ArtsWestchester in White Plains, NY.

Hasna is also an educator who received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. and Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. She grew up in Westchester County, New York with her parents, actors and activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, her sister Nora Davis Day, and her brother Guy Davis, the traditional blues musician. Hasna currently lives in Putnam County, New York with Wali Ali, the jazz guitar player she married. Together they are parenting 3 adult children.

"I want others to see what I see and hopefully be eased, affirmed, or agitated by it."


The Gallery at Still River Editions has hosted national and regional photographers and artists since 1989. In spring 2011, after a brief hiatus from exhibiting new work, the gallery returned to hosting shows on a quarterly basis. The Gallery's mission is to show traditional and digital prints of photographs and fine artwork, and to be a center of creativity and connection in the Danbury area. 

The Gallery at Still River Editions is open during normal business hours 8:30 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday, and during posted hours for special events. The Gallery does not accept unsolicited submissions at this time.