Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Design

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Richmond

Second Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Cleveland

Third Advisor

Dr. Gyewon Kim


Viviane Sassen is a Dutch fashion photographer, whose personal work feature people from African descent. Through the employment of the equatorial light, her models’ personal identities and faces are left in the shadow, their dark skin rendered “just” black, depicting the sitters invisible and without personal recognition.

In this thesis I offer an alternative to reading her work whose praise always stay on the surface; I examine her work in relation to the historical and geographical location, offer an analysis to the ontology of the shadow in photography, and examine the treatment of the surface of Sassen’s models.