Father Gino distributes communion wafers to parishioners during Sunday Mass.
Julia Dean and A. Jay Adler have been traveling across the country for the last eight months telling the story of life on Native American reservations through photography and writing. “It seems to us that Native Americans don’t get talked about a lot in America unless you live next to a reservation or have anything to do with Native Americans,” Dean says. “As journalists, we are just trying to do a little something about it.” You can read more about their project in my previous blog post on their work and on their blog, The Sad Red Earth.
This week we’re featuring another of Dean’s photo essays, The Catholic Church.
Finding Home No. 71 (Fereshteh)
Tikkun lies at the heart of Siona Benjamin’s work. “To repair the world through images,” she says, “is what I seek to do.”
Born into the Bene Israel Jewish tradition, Benjamin grew up Jewish in a Muslim and Hindu community while attending Catholic and Zoroastrian schools. Living her life at the intersection of multiple faith traditions, as well as moving from Bombay to Iowa for graduate school and then to New Jersey where she is currently based, has made her desire to find “home” a constant preoccupation of her life. The conclusion Benjamin has come to: home doesn’t exist. “In this increasingly trans-cultural world, home is where you place your tent. The world is getting smaller,” she says.
Benjamin’s work reflects this. Drawing from the faith traditions she has lived within, combining them with modern images and stories, Benjamin’s art is truly multi-cultural. “I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived,” says Benjamin. These reflections have paid off in the form of beautiful, intricate, and fascinating work that Benjamin produces, so unique to her own exploration of identity while able to maintain a quality that allows her audience to understand and relate to her work. Observing her art is like analyzing fiction, each piece unfolding in meaning, each color and line a different symbol for what Benjamin seeks to communicate. In part, this draws from Benjamin’s background as a set designer (similar to Chagall) and her love for the narrative and characters of the stage. Along with the art pieces displayed in Tikkun’s photo essay, selections from her “Finding Home” series, and those similar to it, Benjamin does art installations involving blue dancers acting out her work. Check out a video about it here.
Julia Dean photo by Agi Magyari
Seven and a half months ago, professional photographer and educator Julia Dean and English professor A. Jay Adler rented out their apartments, traded in their cars for a motor home, and took to the road to document life on Native American reservations across the country.
“It seems to us that Native Americans don’t get talked about a lot in America unless you live next to a reservation or have anything to do with Native Americans,” Dean says. “As journalists, we are just trying to do a little something about it.”
Dean and Adler’s work depicts the complexities of Native American life from a variety of perspectives, changing with each reservation they visit. Each reservation has its own unique set of obstacles and successes, giving them a wide range of foci.
The photo essay featured in Tikkun Daily’s art gallery, “The American Indian Church,” comes from the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona and depicts an important part of life there: religion.