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New Photography Exhibit at Santa Clara University's de Saisset Museum Explores California's Ethnic, Racial, Religious, Sexual Diversity

Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 19, 2011—The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University kicks off the winter season on Jan. 13 with a photography exhibit that explores diverse religious and spiritual practices of California residents.
Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited—A Photodocumentary by Rick Nahmias aims to give voice to those in marginalized communities. Nahmias worked with 11 communities: 
  • Beit T'Shuvuh, the nation’s only halfway house aiding addicts self-identified as Jewish;
  • Buddhadharma Sangha at San Quentin Prison, a group of Zen Buddhist practitioners composed of men incarcerated in California’s oldest prison;
  • Cham Muslims, refugees from Cambodia, who are a cultural minority due to their language and Muslim faith;
  • Deaf Members of the University City Branch of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, a branch of the Mormon Church that caters to the deaf and blind;
  • Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Coastal Miwok and Southern Pomo Native Americans, who have begun reclaiming ancient rituals, dance, and language;
  • Immaculate Heart Community, a group primarily composed of former Catholic nuns, who pursue a doctrine based on social justice, strong feminist tenets, and advocating for the marginalized;
  • People with HIV/AIDS at Kashi Ashram, a spiritual retreat that uses a combination of Hindu sacred practices and traditions to reach its members, many of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS;
  • Rurally Isolated Pentecostals and Baptists, a mostly African American Christian community, who worship in small churches in unincorporated towns of Central Valley;
  • Sex Workers Devoted to Santísima Muerte,a community of Latina sex workers in San Francisco, who embrace the female folk deity Santísima Muerte;
  • Transcendence, the world's only transgender gospel choir; and
  • Women of Wisdom at California Institute for Women,an interfaith and multi-cultural spirituality group for female prison inmates and women from outside communities
Working over a three year period, Nahmias spent multiple days with each group photographing and interviewing participants, who represent ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual diversity in California.
"Golden States of Grace is a study of otherness—the otherness out there, the otherness within each of us, the otherness that begs us to bind together as human beings to celebrate, contemplate, and find meaning in our lives," said Nahmias.
Golden States of Grace brings together 56 black-and-white photographs, interviews, and recordings of prayer and spoken word from project participants. Together, the audio and visual components document the spirit and vitality of the communities on the margins.
In conjunction with the show, a reception is set for Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. In addition, Nahmias will be present on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. for a talk entitled "Diversity, Community, and the Margins of American Society." The artist will share examples of his work and offer unique images and insights into communities found on the margins. All programs are free and open to the public.
For more information on upcoming exhibitions and programs, visit
About the de Saisset Museum
The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University is the South Bay’s free museum of art and history. The museum was founded adjacent to the Mission Santa Clara de Asís on the Santa Clara University campus in 1955 and is one of only three museums in the South Bay accredited by the American Association of Museums. The de Saisset Museum collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets objects of art and history for the educational and cultural enrichment of all people. The museum achieves its mission through an active program of exhibitions, collections, education programs, and publications.
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest operating institution of higher education. For more information, see
Media Contact:
Lindsey Kouvaris | de Saisset Museum | 408-554-4528 | 408-554-7840 fax |
Guru Ma Jaya, Kashi Ashram Guru by Rick Nahmias: Ma Jaya hugs a woman with AIDS at the Ashram. Living as a Jewish housewife in Brooklyn until the mid-seventies, Ma started her spiritual journey after discovering the power of yoga, followed closely by a vision of Christ.

Tags: 2012 winter exhibit, de Saisset Museum, Rick Nahmias

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