de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Faith Placed: The Intersection of Spirituality and Location in Contemporary Photography

January 13 - March 4, 2007

Laurie Long, Selinunte, Temple of Hera, from The Secret History of Goddess Sites, 2001, Dye sublimation print, 8.5 x 10.75 in., Courtesy of the artist

A sacred place is a place where we are brought to the edge of our lives, a place that brings us into contact with transcendent values, with powers beyond our control. It may be a place of death or birth, a place of discovery or despair. The Celtic tradition calls these “thin places”—places where the gulf between God and us is narrowed.

Robert M. Hamma
Landscapes of the Soul: A Spirituality of Place


This exhibition explores recent photography focused on the subject of sacred spaces—places of worship, pilgrimage, and memorial. The exhibition includes work by several photographers—most from the Bay Area, and all Western States-based—and features a broad range of aesthetic and conceptual approaches. Despite their varied interpretations, the photographers in the exhibition are unified by the challenge to represent places with tremendous symbolic and spiritual potential. These artists use the power of photography to create deeply resonant images that highlight the mystery and magic of sacred places.

While some of the sacred sites featured in this exhibition have been neglected, or even abused, others are still active sites of worship and devotion. Many of the artists in the exhibition are keenly interested in exploring how these sites have been affected by and transformed through the intrusion of nature and people. The ongoing survival of these sites is a major concern for some of the artists in the exhibition, as is their continued remembrance.

The sacred sites showcased in the exhibition represent a rich diversity of faiths—from indigenous and pre-historic to many of the world’s modern religions. Several of the artists in the exhibition have devoted their careers to representing spirituality in numerous manifestations throughout the world—demonstrating their interest in a more universal and inclusive approach to faith.

The number of artists turning to the subject of sacred sites may signal a response to a sense of rootlessness in our increasingly interconnected and mobile world, or to our consumerist culture’s continued alienation from spirituality and faith. By focusing on the subject of sacred spaces, these artists reinvigorate the medium of photography with a new magic. Ultimately, their images encourage us to reconnect with—or discover—our own places of transcendent meaning.

Artists in the exhibition include Dugan Aguilar, Linda Connor, Robert Dawson, Kathryn Dunlevie, Steve Dzerigian, Lissa Jones and Curt Fukuda, r.r. Jones, Geir Jordahl, Kate Jordahl, Michael Kenna, Laurie Long, Roman Loranc, David Pace, Michael Rauner, Meridel Rubenstein, Brian Taylor, and Marco Zecchin.

Faith Placed and related programs are funded by the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education’s Bannan Institute.

Image: Laurie Long, Selinunte, Temple of Hera, 2001, From The Secret History of Goddess Sites, 2001-2005, Dye sublimation print, 8.5 x 10.75 in., Courtesy of the artist