Faith in Color was on display in Duke University Chapel from April 4 to May 1, 2018. To learn more about the exhibit, click here.
A scholar of black religion, a sociologist, and an ordained minister, C. Eric Lincoln was a Duke professor whose contributions to American history rival those of Malcolm X, Alex Haley, and James Baldwin. Though he was cited by Pope John Paul II for "scholarly service to the church,” Lincoln’s brilliance is not known amongst the masses nor heavily memorialized in history books.
With Faith in Color, I have attempted to carry on Lincoln’s legacy by shedding light on narratives outside of the mainstream discourse on black religion. Paired with Lincoln’s poetic verses which ring true thirty, fifty, and seventy years after they were written, my photographs explore how black religion manifests itself in 21st century black life—not just on Sundays, but in everyday actions, customs, and traditions.
Using my camera and Lincoln’s words, I sought to explore critical questions surrounding the intersection of black Americans and religious identity. How does religion shape black life, and how does black life shape religion? How have faith practices evolved over time, and how has faith in God instilled hope, from slavery, to segregation, to the conditions of modern day? In an effort to memorialize the current-day intersection of blackness and religion, I looked for moments that might be considered routine but evoked a quiet, reflective quality.
From a Saturday spent at Our Lady of Mount Providence Convent, home of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the oldest African-American Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world, to a service at St. Titus’ Episcopal Church, where renowned civil rights activist Pauli Murray worshipped, I immersed myself in intimate, unfamiliar spaces to gain knowledge of faith practices outside of my own. Through the process, I sought to visually document an aspect of C. Eric Lincoln’s legacy.