“Memento Mori” photographs and poetry by Alex T. Q. Nguyen

Photograph by Alex T. Q. Nguyen

Extended through July!

According to Wikipedia, memento mori (Latin for “remember that you will die”) is an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death. The expression, memento mori, developed with the growth of Christianity, which emphasized Heaven, Hell, and salvation of the soul in the afterlife.

In her photo essay, Memento Mori, medical student Alex T. Q. Nguyen combines poetry and images surrounding the theme of aging and mortality. For Alex, the images evoke childhood memories and her experiences with end-of-life care as a medical student.

Alex’s images portray her understanding of human suffering, in its many forms, across different ages and locations. In some instances, Alex’s memories of the individuals depicted are all that remains of their legacies. “Their bodies might turn to ash, but their stories live on and help shape who I am and will become as a humanitarian and physician.”

Alex Nguyen

Alex T. Q. Nguyen

“As a third-year medical student, I have only begun to learn about illness in clinical settings. Yet, what often overwhelms me is not necessarily the illness of a patient but rather the complexity of their life. Their stories inspire me to reflect on my own journey through writings and photography. I feel humbled by their kindness to share with me their deepest struggles, which remain as fragments of my memories, yet, continue to challenge my ideals about death and diseases.”

Alex extends her thanks to Dr. Stephanie Brown Clark and Ms. Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss for their support throughout this project.


“Memento Mori” is on display through June 2014. Miner Library is open to visitors Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 8 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10 am – 8 pm. Call 585.275.3361 for holiday hours.


Posted by Susan Andersen

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