2003-12-03 / Arts & Entertainment

World Religions Photo Exhibit On Display At BPL

World Religions Photo Exhibit On Display At BPL

“Good Friday, St. Barbara’s” is one of many photographs depicting Brooklyn’s varied religions that are on display at BPL’s Central Branch.						   ©Larry Racioppo“Good Friday, St. Barbara’s” is one of many photographs depicting Brooklyn’s varied religions that are on display at BPL’s Central Branch.  ©Larry Racioppo

A magnet to immigrants from around the world, Brooklyn is home to a diverse mix of spiritual practices. At a time when Americans are challenged to consider the impact of global religions on their daily lives, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) presents "World Religions of Brooklyn: Photographs of Brooklyn’s Varied Spiritual Traditions - A Group Show" on view at the Central Library now through December 31.

This exhibition, free and open to the public, will feature over 50 color and black & white photographs from Martha Cooper, Marilyn Nance, Larry Racioppo, Joseph Rodriguez, Mel Rosenthal, Yale Strom and Jonathan Torgovnik.

Photographs include images of people in spiritual practice and ritual, ranging from Larry Racioppo’s Good Friday, St. Barbara’s and Martha Cooper’s Middle Passage, to Mel Rosenthal’s Praying After the End of Ramadan at Coney Island and Sri Durga Mandir, A Hindu Temple. The exhibition not only portrays the different practices, it captures a sense of how core they are in shaping our values and identity. In Middle Passage, three African-American women gather at the ocean at Coney Island in a ritual that pays tribute to the slaves lost at sea and honors the ancestors who overcame such tremendous hardship in their involuntary passage from Africa.

In Jonathan Torgovnik’s On Kingston Avenue-Looking Back at a McDonald’s Ad, the image of a young Hasidic man in Crown Heights is juxtaposed in a window reflection with that of a young couple kissing between sips of their McDonald’s sodas.

"World Religions" invites us to explore the beauty of personal and communal expression inherent in all spiritual life. At the same time, the impressive array of religious practices portrayed poses the question of how the interplay of these powerful belief systems will impact our neighborhoods, communities and institutions. As the shape of religion in America continues to evolve, will the traditional value of tolerance hold amidst the changing demographics, religious extremism and wrenching media images?

Brooklyn, at the forefront of the nation’s shifting religious demographics is a microcosm of possibilities. Yet even as the exhibition asks how it all fits together, this collection of photographs of real people in spiritual practice reflects a place where, somehow, it might.

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