I’ve had this project in the back of my mind for about five years now, but I had to wait until we were back in the States to get started on it. I’ve always been fascinated by the signs in front of churches with advice and warnings. I think that it’s the mixture of the sacred and the irreverent that interests me, in much the same way as the Mysterious Ways project. I also like the questions that these signs beg: Has anyone ever become a Christian because of a sign? Gone to a particular church? Changed his behavior?
Sometimes you know the details of a project before you even begin, and other times, things change. This was a case of the latter. For years, I had always imagined these photos in color. When I started editing some of the first shots, though, they felt better in black and white. Everything is being shot on my Holga 120 CFN with Fujicolor professional. Each church will be a diptych of two squares: a photo of the sign on the left, and one of the church on the right.
“JESUS IS NOT A VICTIM BUT A WILLING SACRIFICE WILL YOU ACCEPT HIM?
I’m thinking of this as a fairly long-term project. I’m really enjoying working on this so far due to the fact that it lends itself to road trips–something I missed while we were gone. I originally planned on started in northwestern Pennsylvania and then branching out to other states, but due to the amount of material (eighty-two churches visited and thirteen signs in only four trips), I’m starting to think of limiting this project to Pennsylvania only.
A stand-alone mini website is in the works for Roadside Gospel, which I hope to have up and running sometime this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing if any patterns emerge over time: Are certain denominations more or less likely to use these signs? Will there be any noticeable differences in regional church architecture?