Photographs by Thomas Roma. Text by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2002. 128 pp., 52 duotone illustrations, 9½x10".
with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Images of Brooklyn's
sacred spaces, from grand
Gothic cathedrals to
makeshft churches located
in converted storefronts and
'Sanctuaryrefers to a place of
worship and a state of mind-
but it also refers to the most sacred part of a Christian church;
the site where the altar is
housed. Thomas Roma's photographs locate these most sacred
parts of the community within
the larger context of Brooklyn's
landscape, charting the triumphant efforts ofgenerations to
leave their mark, to make their
way through the world of mammon and man, seeking solace
within the city but far beyond it.
They also reveal a persistent, irresistible determination to express
spirituality within the often
harsh landscape of the city, giving glory to God's resplendent being even through the often
makeshift architecture of the
storefront and the movie theater. '
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Sanctuary, acclaimed photographer Thomas Roma offers a
compelling sequence of 52 black-
and-white images that document
the varieties of religious experience in Brooklyn as seen in the
borough's sacred architecture. Juxtaposing pictures of grand Gothic
and Romanesque churches photographed at a distance from backyards and alleys with more
intimate views of smaller places of worship housed in converted storefronts and dilapidated brownstones, Roma subtly calls attention
to issues of history and class,
revealing how successive waves
of immigrants have shaped
Brooklyn's urbanscape and how
the African-American and Hispanic communities living there
now have worked to make these
neighborhoods, culturally and
spiritually, their own.
`Making a place for God,
whether on the walls of doomed
buildings or within steepled
churches, is the subject of
Thomas Roma's seemingly
effortless study. He shows us that
the place for God is anywhere
within the tangled web of
commerce, desire, domesticity
and failure invisibly woven into
our urban landscape. '
Kismaric, Curator of Photography, Museum ofModern Art
Thomas Roma is director of photography and an associate professor of art at Columbia University's
School for the Arts. A two-time
Guggenheim Fellow, Roma has exhibited his photographs in solo
shows at the Museum of Modern
Art and the International Center of
Photography. His previous books
include Higher Ground, Come
Sunday and Enduring Justice.
Creating the North American
Gregory Conniff, Edward K. Muller,
and David Schuyler,
George E Thompson,
Series Founder and Director
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