Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

MFA (Master of Fine Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

James Snitzer


Through acts of preservation my work deals with perceptions of identity and tradition within family structures while also addressing our expectations of photography and the ways in which it fails. Photographs continually promise what they cannot deliver. They are a physical object denoting the possibility of an infinite existence yet represents how ephemeral these experiences and we are. They represent our memories, good or bad, without empathy, serving as hatch marks on our lives, forcing us to always look backwards for the answers. With a slight sorrow, we reflect on past realities of ex lovers, relatives, vacations, and all of the other moments we deemed worthy enough of documenting. We build catalogues of our lives, which become seas of anonymity for future generations. This work is about the failure in our perceptions of infinity and the medium we've come to rely so heavily on to represent us as once being present. Through photographs, film, and performances of familial traditions I examine relations of these acts and places to a sense of existence, creating a language of self-reference to map the past.




vii, 43 pages


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Copyright 2013 Sarah Phyllis Smith

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