University of Southern California

Center for Religion & Civic Culture

Photographic Exhibits

Since 1996, the visual documentation of religion has been an important area of interest for CRCC. Photographs from several projects in Los Angeles and Rwanda have been incorporated into traveling exhibits. The first exhibit, "The Soul of Los Angeles: Portraits of Faith, Hope and Social Transformation,” includes photographs from a large archive of photographs by Jerry Berndt. Over the course of more than a decade of partnership with CRCC, Berndt has taken thousands of photographs that explore themes of religion in Los Angeles and five other cities. The exhibit has traveled to many venues, most recently to the San Francisco Public Library. Another exhibit by Jerry Berndt, “Orphans of the Rwanda Genocide: Portraits of Survival and Hope,” was on display from July to October 2008 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

In addition to these exhibits, CRCC has worked with Ara Oshagan on two photo documentation projects that received grant funding from the California Council for the Humanities. “Traces of Identity” explored the Armenian experience of Los Angeles and was exhibited at the LA Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park and the Downey Museum of Art. Oshagan’s “Building Community: The Ethiopians of Los Angeles” resulted in a multimedia project that contains still photographs and oral histories. View the project.

Another project with photographer Matt Gainer, director of the USC Digital Library, is currently underway with funding from the California Council for the Humanities. “Exploring Community, Worth and Life on the Slabs,” will use documentary photography and oral histories to examine how community is maintained in Slab City, near the Salton Sea, a site that has no official status as place, no state-supported infrastructure, and no private property.

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