Art History and Trevor's Memento Mori

Trevor is taking a college Art History class this semester (along with five high school classes). It's a 3-unit class that "explores the history of Western Art through a critical analysis of Renaissance art through Post-Modern Art. Students ... examine the connection between art and culture, and evaluate the historic, religious, and political influences on the artistic choices of diverse men and women of art history from the 15th century to today."

I love art (obviously), but have never taken an art history class. With Trevor doing distance learning, I realized it would be really easy for me to sit in on the lectures and learn the material. With Trevor's blessing, I am doing just that. The professor is outstanding and we both absolutely love the class.

I'm not enrolled in the class, so I am not doing the written assignments. Trevor has not showed me his work, nor will he let me see what his classmates have submitted (everyone posts their art analyses to a common message board). Once we finish listening to the lectures, he waits until I leave the room to do the homework. 

The one exception to that was for his most recent assignment, which was creating and photographing a memento mori. A memento mori is a still life intended to remind the viewer of the fragility of life and of their own mortality (the name from Latin meaning "remember you must die."). They often feature symbols like skulls, clocks, fresh fruit (that will soon rot), and extinguished candles. 

For this assignment, Trevor needed my help. Not only did he want to use my black dropcloth and some of my stuff, but he would need my help actually taking the photo (as it's impossible to hold up a black reflector to the side, extinguish a candle in the back, and push a shutter button at the front at the same time).

This is Trevor's memento mori. See if you can spot the symbols he included.

Obviously, there are extinguished candles. He chose to keep two lit to show that a little life remains. He included fresh fruit (all we had on hand was a banana because our produce box pickup was the following day), as well as the pumpkin and the dried corn. Those represent fall, the last season until we head into winter (a symbol of death). The chess game is almost over, another sign that death is near. All the dice are oriented with the 4 facing up (in some Asian cultures, the word for four sounds similar to the word for death). The foreign coins are a reminder that 'you can't take it with you;'' above them, a stopped watch.

I am dying (ha!) to see what his classmates' photos look like and to find out how they responded to Trevor's. Hopefully once the grading is done, he'll let me see. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the lectures... and everything else, as life is fleeting and I want to learn, do, try, and share as much as I can in this life. 


  1. What a fun class to join in on! And I love his photo! So insightful!

  2. It's pretty cool to take a class with your son! LOVE the photo!


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