Spiritual and Religious Diversity Project: A Photo-Ethnographic Study of Private Shrines & Altars
The hidden expressions of spiritual and religious practices in people’s private lives has always fascinated me. The unique way each person performs their own beliefs and faith points toward a wide-ranging diversity of spiritual and religious performances. The location, or specific site for these private spiritual practices can be found at a personal altar or shrine, comprised of a collection of sacred and meaningful objects.
This photography project focuses on the intimate connections that a diverse range of people have with site-specific places and objects that serve as focal points, where believers feel strong links with transcendent beings, ethereal energies, and/or supernatural realities. Through devotion, presence, and attention, practitioner’s altar objects become infused with one’s spiritual/life energy.
Each unique altar in this project represent part of a wide range of individual spiritual belief systems, both within and outside mainstream religions. I network through spiritual communities to find subjects that are willing to be documented. The images are intimate representations, based on the idea that there are as many unique displays of spiritual expression as there are people.
The subjects I collaborate with are spiritual practitioners who want to give voice to and celebrate their own distinct expression within a multitude of spiritual beliefs. They are all believers in a supernatural meta-ecology, or structure of subtle dimensions that co-exist with our reality comprised of various beings, forces, or higher powers.
Part of this view recognizes altars to be microcosms and/or nexuses of those subtle dimensions from which practitioners connect with higher powers, express their sense of devotion, and gain spiritual nourishment. This project explores the diversity of spiritual and religious practices through the individual presentation of the private altar or shrine.