Articles of Faith: African-American Community Churches in Chicago

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Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2009 - Photography - 93 pages
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In this era of suburban mega-churches and televised Sunday morning services, it is easy to forget that many Americans worship in small, community churches whose sanctuaries are often repurposed commercial spaces. In Articles of Faith, photographer Dave Jordano documents the at once humble and dynamic storefront churches of Chicago’s African American neighborhoods. These churches, which dot the south and west sides of the city, are truly community churches—individualized and idiosyncratic, they cater to the specific needs and wants of their members.

For the last five years, Jordano has spent his weekends traveling to different churches in the city, getting to know their pastors and parishioners. And this attention to personal detail is highly evident in his exquisite photographs that capture the identity and personalities of each church, from the hand-lettered signs to the icons. His interior images of the sacred spaces illustrate how the congregants create a comforting environment of affirmation, hope, and family for members who often live in neighborhoods marked by high crime and troubled homes. Infused in the space of these makeshift churches is also a sense of history that traces back to a time in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when one of the only forms of open expression available to African Americans was religious practice.

These powerful and reverent images illuminate a vital component of urban life for many African Americans and speak to the links between the past and present African American experience.

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About the author (2009)

Dave Jordano is a commercial photographer from Chicago. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Northwestern University, among others.

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