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Religion in American Society, 1935-43

U.Va. To Host "Picturing Faith" Photography Exhibit

May 6, 2002-- A collection of photographs that shows the place of religion in American society, 1935-43, also features the work of some of America’s best-known photographers — Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks.

The exhibit, "Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935-1943," will be on display at the University of Virginia’s Newcomb Hall Art Gallery, from May 8 to June 1. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning May 8. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Also on Wednesday, May 8 at 4 p.m., Colleen McDannell, curator of the exhibit who holds joint appointments in the University of Utah’s departments of history and religious studies, will lead a gallery tour and discuss the exhibit. The tour is free and open to the public.

The exhibit includes the work of talented photographers hired in 1935 by the Historical Division of the Farm Security Administration. The FSA initiated a photographic survey of economic struggle and social dislocation in Depression-era America to generate support for New Deal reforms. Roy E. Stryker, the FSA’s historical division director, also wanted to produce a composite picture of American society and asked the photographers to include pictures of America’s religious life.

These "sociologists with cameras" entered the homes and churches of poor and middle-class Americans. They photographed people in prayer, at domestic shrines, saying grace, going to church, and at revival meetings. While some of these photographs are familiar, this is the first exhibition of government photographers’ efforts to represent religious life during this stressful time in our nation’s history.

Supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the exhibition includes 45 black- and-white photographs from the archives of the Library of Congress. Accompanying the photographs are explanations that set the photographs in their historical, artistic and religious context.

The exhibit is sponsored by Artspace, The Project on Lived Theology, U.Va.’s Jewish Studies program and the Center on Religion and Democracy.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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