- Cindy Brown is using a camera to dispel religious stereotypes
in Mississippi and, in the process, has experienced a personal "spiritual
awakening" of her own.
professor of mass communications and journalism at The University
of Southern Mississippi, Brown has spent the past three years photographing
religious services at churches, mosques, temples and religious centers
across south Mississippi at her own expense.
she is receiving financial help for her long-term photographic documentary
project from the Pluralism Project developed at Harvard University
by Diana L. Eck to study and document the growing religious diversity
of the United States, and particularly the country's new immigrant
been documenting religious diversity in southern Mississippi and
the folks at the Pluralism Project at Harvard have just awarded
me $1,200 to profile several religious centers in Mississippi, and
produce a couple of slide shows for their Web site," said Brown,
a veteran photojournalist and picture editor who teaches photography
and graphic design at Southern Miss.
hope to produce a book of photographs," added Brown, who grew
up in the Southern Baptist Church and spent her teenage years playing
the organ at a Methodist Church. As an adult, she converted to the
Unitarian Universalist faith.
the need to see how others believed and worshiped, and knew my camera
would be a ticket into places I might not otherwise venture,"
she said. "To a large extent, the project was part of my own
free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
the course of this documentation, I have experienced what I would
describe as a spiritual awakening," Brown continued. "I
can't say that the awakening was a direct result of the documentary
project, but I'm sure the project was one of many influences leading
to that awakening.
pluralism project is one of several projects I hope to complete
during my lifetime that focus on dismantling stereotypes,"
past three decades, according to the Pluralism Project Web site,
the U.S. religious landscape has changed dramatically with
Islamic centers and mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples and meditation
centers locating in virtually every American city
between people of very different religious traditions takes place
in the proximity of our own cities and neighborhoods," according
to the Web site, which may be accessed at www.pluralism.org. "How
Americans of all faiths begin to engage with one another in shaping
a positive pluralism is one of the most important questions American
society faces in the years ahead.
she already has documented a wide variety of religious services
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in Hattiesburg, Sumrall, Mount
Olive and Ovette. As a photojournalist working for the Biloxi Sun-Herald
a couple of years ago, she photographed and wrote about a Hare Krishna
farm in the Carriere community. She plans to focus on churches and
religious centers in Jackson and Biloxi in continuing her documentation
the Southern Miss faculty in 1999 after working as a photographer
at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times and as a picture editor for the
Indianapolis (Ind.) Star. She worked in the summer of 2000 at the
Sun-Herald as an American Society of Newspaper Editors Summer Fellow.
Before coming to Hattiesburg, she served as information architect
and Web design consultant for Gecko Media in Tampa, Fla., where
she also worked as an adjunct professor at the University of South