This past year, two life-altering events descended on my life within a few months of each other: the death of my sister from cancer, and the birth of my first child. Both were anticipated, but hit me with a kind of emotional power that I couldn’t have imagined until they actually happened. The extremes of the highs and lows these events brought induced a mental whiplash as I thought about what they meant, and how they would affect my family and me. Grief and celebration seldom inhabit the same place at once, but I found my-self living shoulder to shoulder with them both. I was feeling these emotions in all their intensity and poignancy, and simultaneously trying to place them all into rational categories that would help me make sense of a life that had ended, and a new one that had just begun.

My book entitled 197_ Is a metaphorical visualization of my struggle to reconcile the heartache of my sister’s loss, the awe and wonder of meeting my daughter, the ache of living thousands of miles away from her, as well as the tension between the way these experiences felt to me, and what some of the philosophies I had studied told me they really meant. Through a sometimes discordant mix of cinematic images, personal vernacular photographs, and collage, I attempt to show my viewers what this struggle feels like, and in the sequence and structure of the book, I allow the viewer to participate in my search for meaning.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Artists' books; Photography, Artistic; Photobooks; Grief in art; Collage; Vernacular photography

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Arts (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Christine Shank

Advisor/Committee Member

Therese Mulligan


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at N7433.4.R456 A19 2015


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes