Last Friday, I had the privilege of documenting the local Ethiopian Orthodox community’s celebration of the Epiphany, known as Timket, for the American Religious Sounds Project. The celebration began at a banquet hall on the southeast side of Columbus, from which community members transported a replica of the Ark of the Covenant to their church – in a Hummer stretch limo. The mixture of cultures was absolutely fascinating.
Last Friday also marked the inauguration of the 45th American president, whose divisive campaign has stirred up anti-immigrant fervor, as well as some of the most hateful and racist rhetoric I have heard in my lifetime. Like many Americans, I have been left wondering what I can do to counter the rising tide of bigotry and isolationism. There are many times each day when I feel dismayed and utterly powerless. However, I am trying to focus on my initial motivation for becoming a photographer: to share the human stories behind religion, and to help generate greater understanding, empathy, and tolerance. I deeply value the time that I have gotten to spend with diverse communities over the years, and the insight this has given me into other cultures – which, hopefully, I can share with others in a beneficial way.
I am also grateful that I got to spend Friday documenting the Ethiopian Orthodox community, and continuing to pursue these goals. There is much work to do.
Thanks for looking.