Transmutation, Part I: All of the Churches in Colorado Springs
“A fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something.” --George Marsden
All of the Churches in Colorado Springs is a search for the immaterial and personal through the use of visual organization; it is a photographic meditation of spaces comprised of equal parts documentary, typology, and psychoanalysis. I was raised in a family of evangelical fundamentalists who were living in Colorado Springs at the same moment that James Dobson founded Focus on the Family, whose dogma figured prominently into my upbringing. Their subsequent indoctrination and religious fervor created a stranglehold on my life and experiences that cannot be understated. Decades later, I have unexpectedly found myself living in Colorado Springs again—which has since become an evangelical mecca—and in a current political moment whose very origins, I contend, can be traced to this place.
How did modern Christianity get so angry? How did its outer-most fringes become the center of contemporary American life? How did a relatively small group of people come to dominate our current political discourse, shifting policies that disenfranchise vast swaths of the population based on race and class? Where did it all start and how can we begin to understand it?
In this first phase of Transmutation, I am conducting a typology of all of the physical structures that house Christian church services within the city limits—there are nearly 400 of them. What can one learn by examining the architectural language of these houses of worship? What other kinds of intangible information is made visible by looking at what these places call themselves by name, by whether they appear welcoming or austere or commercial, by how the sky appeared that day? What does immersion in the collective imagery of hundreds of churches in one town do to one’s notion of “church” or “holy” or “sanctuary?” Through this taxonomical analysis, I am able to explore my experience and understanding of these buildings as spaces that encourage alienation, bewilderment, fear and the uncanny.