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Mae Ryan August 8, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers, NY 2010

Mae Ryan (b. 1987, United States) is a documentary photographer and multimedia producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at The International Center of Photography and holds a BS in Architectural Design from Stanford University. Her work has appeared in TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The FADER and Architectural Record and she has produced multimedia pieces for Magnum In Motion. In 2010, Mae attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and in 2011 she won a scholarship to attend the Foundry Workshop in Buenos Aires.

About the Photograph:

“I took this photo of Sister Marilda on the first day that I stepped into the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers, NY. The Sisters had invited me to document a funeral at their in-house chapel and as I was leaving I noticed that Sister Marilda was lingering in the foyer to watch her friends leave.  I later learned that over thirty years ago Sister Marilda fell ill and promised God that if her health improved she would wear the full habit until the day she died. Pictured behind her is Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809. This order of nuns was once a thriving community that served as teachers and nurses throughout the New York area. Today there are about 300 living members of the community, however no one has joined the order in the past five years. 80 of these nuns now live in the Convent of Mary the Queen, which the community established to take care of the aging Sisters as they approached the end of their lives.”

“Over the course of the four months that I documented the convent, I became increasingly interested in their views on death and the afterlife. Many of the women were looking forward to reuniting with God, while others were more apprehensive and fearful of the unknown. Since I started the project in March 2010, twenty Sisters at the convent have died and other Sisters have moved in to take their places.”