“Belief: The Prayer Project” By Photographer Neal Slavin Explores Global Faiths In Harlem

March 9, 2020

The BELIEF: The Prayer Project, an exhibition by photographer Neal Slavin, beginning Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Harlem, NY.

The works in this exhibition are taken from Slavin’s ongoing series exploring the practices and traditions of global faiths. Through the photos in this series, Slavin explores the fundamental need of people to gather together and connect spiritually in order to face life events beyond their individual understanding.

Slavin’s photographs capture sacred spaces and different prayer styles and customs around New York City, ranging from Islamic prayer services to Buddhist temple dedications. His interest is in the private spiritual experience captured on each face in a crowd of hundreds or even thousands: the moment of personal transcendence that can only be accessed as part of a larger community. The images invite perusal and meditation on the varied forms and meanings of prayer—a perfect project for the Lenten season.

The Cathedral has a long history of presenting art exhibitions, from meditative to challenging, historical to contemporary. Past exhibitions include The Value of Sanctuary:

  • Building a House Without Walls (February – June 2019);
  • The Barberini Tapestries: Woven Monuments of Baroque Rome (March – July 2017);
  • The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies (October 2016 – March 2017);
  • The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet (October 2015 – April 206); and
  • Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral (January 2014 – March 2015).

BELIEF: The Prayer Project will be on view through May 2020.

Neal Slavin (born 1941) is an American photographer and television/film director. He is the author of Portugal (1971), When Two or More are Gathered Together (1976) and Britons (1986). He directed and produced the film Focus (2001).

His photography has been seen in publications including The Sunday Times magazine, Stern, Town & Country, Esquire, and The New York Times magazine. Slavin’s grants and awards include a Fulbright Fellowship in Photography, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a number of awards from Communication Arts Magazine. In 1986, he was named as the Corporate Photographer of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Photographers. He was also awarded the 1988 Augustus Saint-Gaudens Medal and the 2005 President’s Citation by his alma mater, the Cooper Union. His photographs are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

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The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership.

People from many faiths and communities worship together in services held more than 30 times a week; the soup kitchen serves roughly 25,000 meals annually; social service outreach has an increasingly varied roster of programs; the distinguished Cathedral School prepares young students to be future leaders; Advancing the Community of Tomorrow (ACT), the renowned preschool, afterschool and summer program, offers diverse educational and nurturing experiences; the outstanding Textile Conservation Lab preserves world treasures; concerts, exhibitions, performances and civic gatherings allow conversation, celebration, reflection and remembrance—such is the joyfully busy life of this beloved and venerated Cathedral.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street), in Harlem, NY. https://www.stjohndivine.org/art/art-exhibitions/.

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