Emma MayFollow



Download Full Text (1.0 MB)


This is the senior art portfolio for Emma May. It was exhibited in the galleries at St. Norbert College in the spring of 2019. The exhibit included four photographs depicting cemetery sculptures.

Semester Completed

Spring 2019


De Pere, WI


Photography, Cemeteries, Symbols, Light, Anchor, Hebe, Hope


Art and Design

Artist Statement

Ever since I picked up my first camera, I have always been attracted to the way that photography captures natural light and textures. I have struggled to fully capture and recreate these aspects on paper, and this further increased my love of photography. The point of this series of cemetery stills is to use natural light to create a sense of tranquility in a location where there is generally unease, and to show there is a beauty in the symbols found there.

Symbols in cemeteries each have their own unique meanings. Angels represent guardians and messengers of the dead, and oftentimes they will hold paper and a writing tool to record the good deeds of the dead so they may have eternal life. Occasionally, an anchor might be spotted in a cemetery. These signify that the person who passed was someone who provided exceptional stability, security, or support to their friends or family. In this series, however, there is a symbol that is an outlier. Hebe is the Greek goddess of eternal youth, and her presence in the cemetery is meant as a symbol of eternal youth. While most symbols in cemeteries offer hope in the afterlife for those who died, the statue of Hebe boldly states that the deceased have eternal youth in the afterlife. My hope is that learning the symbols of cemeteries will make them seem less daunting and transform them into locations of peacefulness.

For this series I specifically wanted to capture cemeteries from my mother’s point of view. My mother and her insistence on dragging my unwilling brother and I to the resting place of the dead served as the inspiration for this series. She finds cemeteries calming and enjoys walking through them, photographing them, and reading about the symbolism they contain. At first, working on this series was a struggle for me, yet as I learned and photographed more, I came to see what my mother sees in cemeteries.


Copyright, Emma May

Emma May, Senior Art Exhibition Portfolio