Halfway between Harlem and Heaven

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Poet John Donne admonished the Grim Reaper with the words, “death, be not proud.” Funeral cosmetologist Isaiah Owens makes a simpler promise to his clients: Death might be painful, heartbreaking, and awful, but under Owens deft hand, at least it will not be ugly.

For 30 years Owens has owned and operated a funeral home in Harlem that boasts the slogan “where beauty softens your grief.” There he has been transforming the dead, along with their wounded, emaciated, bruised and shrunken bodies, into glowing, smiling and well-dressed testaments to life. He recently teamed up with photographer Elizabeth Heyert and together they are making an historical record of Harlem, by restoring and preserving its departing residents. Going to the party with Isaiah Owens and photographer Elizabeth Heyert.


Isaiah Owens, owner of Isaiah Owens Funeral Service and photographer Elizabeth Heyert