This thesis is an examination of family in relation to labor, as expressed through photography. My thesis exhibition, Legacy, grew out of a personal financial struggle while pursuing my graduate studies. Finding myself unable to find work to support my education, I began to travel back home to Chicago to work in my family's house painting business. These journeys to home sparked an epiphany creating a realization that the family business, from which I considered my enrollment at RIT an escape, was actually my salvation. The business I felt I had run from was now supporting my photographic ambitions. I began to photograph in the spaces I had once abandoned, creating an homage to family and the painting trade.

The images all came from the private interior spaces of the families for whom we work. At first glance the images appear to be formal studies of space, but closer inspection reveals visual artifacts found on the jobsite. Though devoid of people, these artifacts and spaces are representative of my memories of the family business, and thus conceptually full of personal family imagery.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Arts (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Therese Mulligan

Advisor/Committee Member

Dan Larkin

Advisor/Committee Member

Jessica Lieberman


RIT – Main Campus