True Places
114 pages

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114 pages

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True Places is an emotionally charged photographic documentary of the lives of evangelical pastor Floyd Knowlin and his close-knit African American congregations who live, work, and worship in a rural stretch of coastal South Carolina.

For more than a decade photographer Stanley F. Lanzano has immersed himself in the daily practices of this community in Williamsburg and Georgetown counties, befriending Reverend Knowlin and becoming a welcomed part of his extended church family. The respectful relationship that Lanzano has forged with his subjects and the trust that they have extended to him shines through in the eighty-three black-and-white and eight color photographs included here, illustrating a vibrant coastal subculture rarely witnessed by outsiders.

Many of Lanzano's photographs document services and church revivals, conveying the great joy, sorrow, and fervor of these meetings while highlighting Knowlin's captivating persona. Lanzano also grants us glimpses into baptisms in the murky, still waters of lowcountry South Carolina rivers. Beyond the church he takes us into the private homes and lives of Knowlin's flock, many of whom are of Gullah descent and keep elements of this heritage alive in their daily practices. Collectively these images show a society in transition, where pain and grief are juxtaposed with redemption and bliss.

Lanzano's narrative of his meeting Reverend Knowlin and his continuing relationship with Knowlin's community is a tale of self-discovery. It is also a testament to the power of faith in the lives of often forgotten South Carolinians. It is a rarity for a photographer to be granted such unlimited access into these communities. Through these images Lanzano creates with the utmost reverence and respect a powerful record of the hardships and hopes he witnessed among Knowlin's congregations to preserve their legacy and to share their inspirational attitude toward life in these true places.



Publié par
Date de parution 19 juillet 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611172669
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


True Places
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

True Places
A Lowcountry Preacher, His Church, and His People

The University of South Carolina Press
© 2009 Stanley F. Lanzano
Cloth edition published by the University of South Carolina Press, 2009
Ebook edition published in Columbia, South Carolina,
by the University of South Carolina Press, 2013
22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Library of Congress has cataloged the cloth edition as follows:
Lanzano, Stanley F.
True places : a lowcountry preacher, his church, and his people / Stanley F. Lanzano.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-1-57003-851-8 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Portrait photography. 2. Christians South Carolina Georgetown Portraits. 3. Knowlin, Floyd Portraits. 4. African American churches South Carolina Georgetown Pictorial works. 5. African Americans Religion. I. Title.
TR680.L343 2009
770.9757'89 dc22
ISBN 978-1-61117-266-9 (ebook)
To my sons: Stanley Jr., Ted, and Francis, the driving forces of my life
1 People and Places
2 “Lord, I Wish I Had a Prayin’ Church Tonight!”
3 Life, Death, and Renewal
This book would never have been possible without the sincerity, enthusiasm, wisdom, and friendship of the Reverend Floyd Knowlin. He believed in this project from the start and encouraged his community and his family to accept my presence. They did so with all their hearts, and I am grateful to all of them.
After the first photographs were taken in November of 1994, I took the film to my friend Ken Sanville, a gifted printer. He affectionately complained about the depth of the negatives and this and that, but he produced one print in particular that stopped my heart and ensured that this project would ultimately become a book. The photograph to which I am referring is the one of Pastor Sharon Epps and her daughter, Josie Epps, that I took at Hickory Grove Chapel in Cades, South Carolina. The clarity and beauty of the polka dots on Pastor Epps’s dress somehow motivated me to continue this project. After all, these were my very first contact sheets. Ken has been my printer and faithful friend throughout this long photographic journey.
Alexander Moore, my acquisitions editor at the University of South Carolina Press, provided unforgettable patience, wisdom, and guidance. I would like to thank Jane Fudge, former photography curator at the Denver Art Museum; the Foothills Art Center and its former executive directors Carol Dickenson and Jennifer Cook Ito; Jay Williams, former curator at the McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina; Karen Ripley, former curator at the Boulder Public Library; and the staff of the Misel Museum in Denver. I would also like to thank Robert Benjamin, Mike Flanagan, Mrs. Floyd Knowlin, Candy Sanville, Barbara Jo Revelle, Carolyn Bartels, Richard F. Bertrand Jr., Maureen Burkhardt, Beverly Lyne, Karen Rood, Pat Callahan, Brandi Lariscy Avant, Tranea Kinloch, Jackie McCarty, Edgar J. Roberts Jr., Laura Lyon, and Waylon Carter. Joy Lanzano provided endless encouragement and patience and an uncanny photograph selection ability. Rivvy Neshama brilliantly organized the discombobulated original text and also helped compose and edit a great deal of the remainder. Carolyn S. Tate provided her graphic design experience. Finally I would like to thank my parents, Helen and Frank Lanzano, now deceased, and my sister, Ellen Lanzano, who supported, taught, and loved me throughout my life; I am eternally grateful. I would be remiss not to mention the countless words of encouragement I’ve received over the years from my family, my friends, and strangers I have met along the way.

Swamp across from St. Jude’s Church, 2000 (detail)
IN THE SUMMER OF 1994, I was vacationing with my family at a historic inn on Pawleys Island, not far from Georgetown, South Carolina. The inn was as intimate and restful as we had been told. The veranda was wide, the living room filled with books, and the ocean right at the door.
It was a place of old-fashioned comforts, including cocktail hour on the porch, where the waitstaff served us each evening before dinner. Everything reflected a southern graciousness, almost exotic to someone who grew up in New York City. But what intrigued me most was the silent black staff. They moved slowly, their eyes kept low; they seldom smiled or changed expression. Wearing starched white uniforms, they did their jobs in a quiet, efficient, and accommodating way. I wondered about their lives and dreams, their homes and families. One morning at 6:00 A.M ., as they came to work, I heard giggling and talking under my window. I felt a little jealous I wished that I went to work giggling and it made me wonder even more. I thought about what I could not see from the protected veranda of this elegant old inn and what I could not hear in the silence beneath the clinking cocktail glasses and banter of the guests.
One Friday night, after serving dinner, the kitchen staff put on a brief gospel show. It was a happy, energizing event filled with singing, dancing, and laughter. There was spirit all around, and it flowed into our small group of watchers. Other guests, mostly southerners, seemed less interested; perhaps they were used to African American celebrations. But I was elated. I had seldom seen human beings who had seemed so spiritually connected to God and to each other. “There’s something going on here,” I told my wife, Joy. And I wanted to be part of it. After the show, I asked a member of the kitchen staff if we could visit her church on Sunday, and she said, “Yes, of course.”
The next day Joy and I went driving to find the church so we could be sure not to be late on Sunday. The directions we received were helpful, but less than clear: “Go past Miss Halley’s blue house just over that white bridge.” We were soon lost and had to stop at a gas station to ask the way. The teenage counter clerk, whose name badge said “Tranea,” asked, “What do you want to go to that church for?” I said, “Because I’m a photographer.” “Well you don’t want to go to that church you want to go to my church,” she responded. Then she called her pastor, told him about us, and gave us directions to her church. It was a cinder-block building south of Georgetown, on the edge of a field and in the middle of nowhere. The Reverend Floyd Knowlin drove over that day to meet us, and we became friends for life.
That meeting with Reverend Knowlin in the grass next to the unfinished walls of Shiloh Church inspired me to pursue this project. I asked if it would be possible for me to take photographs inside the church of him preaching and of his congregation in prayer. “Yes, that would be fine,” he said.
The next morning, when we entered the church, everything looked fresh and yellow and pink. There were pink and white flowers on the altar; little girls had pink ribbons in their braided hair; and yellow sunlight streamed through the broken stained glass of an arched window. People were quietly greeting and hugging each other. Mothers held babies in the back pews. We shyly sat down in the last row. But then Tranea, the girl from the gas station, came over and beckoned us forward. “You don’t have to sit in the back of our church,” she said. Her welcome was enhanced by Reverend Knowlin, who introduced us by saying, “This is my brother and sister! They don’t look like my brother and sister, but we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord! Now, don’t be camera shy. He’s invited here. He’s our brother.”
With those words similar to words he repeated at every subsequent service I attended I settled back, not knowing that I was about to hear singing, praying, and preaching as moving and powerful as I have ever heard. The Spirit was present. By the time I left I was smitten. I had walked into a brand-new world. Everything looked brighter and changed to me. I wanted only to see and hear and learn more, So when Reverend Knowlin invited us to come to one of his nighttime revival meetings, I said “Of course. I’ll come back in the fall and see you then.”
I am a self-taught photographer more of a pictorial storyteller. At the time I had only a 35mm Leica. I knew I needed a different camera to capture these new stories, so I bought a Mamiya medium-format camera as soon as I returned to my home in Boulder, Colorado. I also began to work with Ken Sanville, a close friend, adviser, and accomplished printer.

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