Photo credit: St. Patrick Cemetery, https://www.stpatrickcemetery.org/.
Spending her summer in graveyards, Samantha Newton is working to remind us of our own mortality, particularly as we navigate through these unprecedented times. Samantha’s research project involves the exploration of four cemeteries in Alberta: Union Cemetery and St. Patrick Cemetery in Calgary, Edmonton Cemetery in Edmonton, and St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Lethbridge.
She is photographing these cemeteries in addition to her research and exploration, and the resulting work will be presented in four volumes of semi-fictional archives, each based on a cemetery. Samantha says the archives will be based on some facts gathered from archival research as well as visits to the cemetery and will include additional information that is entirely fictional.
The purpose of these semi-fictional archives is to bring attention to the idea that much of the content we consume today is fiction disguised as fact. We can never get the whole picture as each person speaks their own truth, experiencing each situation differently. As more time passes, truth loses detail, clarity and witnesses growing increasingly fictional.
Samantha says she hopes these books will act as a reminder of our own mortality in the face of this current tumultuous time in history. Samantha is in her fifth year of studies, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art Studio. She says her connection to the subject of her research comes from her family, as they enjoy a common fascination with history.
We have spent a great deal of family time exploring historic local sites and enjoying the stories of these places. My dad loves nothing more than to conduct well-researched tours for us around Calgary and surrounding areas, which has instilled in me the same passion. I was asked to consider the concepts of time, duration, and archive for a project this semester and it became clear to me that with my passion for history, local cemeteries would be the perfect way to fully explore these concepts. From this one small project, I knew that I wanted to further my research in this area.
Samantha says her research experience has been highly valuable to her education and her degree, adding that she was able to access excellent resources through the university’s library. She says she will be taking the skills she learned from her research project, such as self-motivation and organization, and create her own independent research project in the future.