Memento Mori

A series of tintypes exploring themes of mortality throughout religious iconography

Memento Mori is derived from the Latin, “Remember to die.” Commonly referred to as a reminder of death, memento moris are commonly found in Western religious paintings. These reminders often are hidden details in a piece, such as a skull rested upon the table in the background of a painting, sometimes these reminders are more explicit and embody the entire piece. These often morbidly explicit depictions of death are said to serve to make viewers reflect upon their own mortality and as a reminder that earthly pleasures are fleeting. 

I became interested in the subject of memento mori through my studies in art history. In looking at art throughout Western history, the bulk of which is heavily religious, it became apparent to me that reminders of death were not merely reserved to these small details, but quite often the underlying theme of the entire image. This project, for me, was about looking at these veiled themes of mortality and bringing them to the forefront of the image. By making mortality the emphasized feature of these iconic images I seek to explore the ideas of mortality underlying the image and its context.