BOOK: Test of Faith
Pentecostal serpent handlers, also known as Signs Followers, hold a literal interpretation of a verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark which states that, among other abilities, true believers shall be able to “take up serpents.” For more than a century, members of this uniquely Appalachian religious tradition have handled venomous snakes during their worship services, risking death as evidence of their unwavering faith.
Who are the serpent handlers? What motivates them to continue their potentially lethal practices through the generations? Test of Faith provides a deeply nuanced, personal look at serpent handling that not only invites greater understanding of a religious practice that has long faced derision and criticism; it also serves as a meditation on the photographic process, its ethics, and its capacity to generate empathy.
Test of Faith was published with the generous support of the 2016 Duke Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.
Feb. 21, 2017: Interview in American Photo Magazine
July 18, 2017: Preview in Pacific Standard Magazine
Nov. 16, 2017: Radio Interview on WUNC’s “The State of Things”
Nov. 22, 2017: Excerpt in the Oxford American
Nov. 27, 2017: Photo of the Day in PDN
Dec. 8, 2017: Feature in the Charleston Gazette-Mail
Duke University Press/CDS Books
Hardcover, 144 pages
Available November 2017
$45.00 on Amazon
$55.00 for copy signed by artist
Lauren Pond's work suggests that the art of grasping genuine cultural difference . . . demands so much more. It asks us to shed our preconceptions, enter strange communities in a spirit of tolerance and humility, interact with genuine respect and curiosity, and earn the trust of our subjects. It asks us, in other words, to do so much more than conventional journalism currently asks us to do.
Who are these purposeful, vibrant people so different from myself? Test of Faith commands this question and prompts me to consider the basis and limitations of my own worldview.
Presentation at Appalachian Studies Association Conference
150 W. 5th Street
Exhibit at Ohio University
Schoonover Center Gallery
20 East Union Street
Book Talk & Signing: Date and Time TBA
Book Talk & Signing at Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Exhibit at Taylor Books
226 Capitol Street
Charleston, West Virginia
Book Talk & Signing: January 20, 2018, Time TBA
Book Talk & Signing at Gramercy Books
2424 East Main Street
Book Talk & Signing at Ohio State University
Hayes Cape Room
1739 N. High Street
Exhibit at Duke University
Rubenstein Photography Gallery
411 Chapel Drive
Durham, North Carolina
Artist’s Talk, Reception, & Book Signing: November 16, 2017, 5 – 7 p.m.