A Lowcountry Preacher, His Church, and His People
For more than a decade photographer Stanley F. Lanzano has immersed himself in the daily practices of this community in Williamsburg and Georgetown counties, befriending Reverend Knowlin and becoming a welcomed part of his extended church family. The respectful relationship that Lanzano has forged with his subjects and the trust that they have extended to him shines through in the eighty-three black-and-white and eight color photographs included here, illustrating a vibrant coastal subculture rarely witnessed by outsiders.
Many of Lanzano's photographs document services and church revivals, conveying the great joy, sorrow, and fervor of these meetings while highlighting Knowlin's captivating persona. Lanzano also grants us glimpses into baptisms in the murky, still waters of lowcountry South Carolina rivers. Beyond the church he takes us into the private homes and lives of Knowlin's flock, many of whom are of Gullah descent and keep elements of this heritage alive in their daily practices. Collectively these images show a society in transition, where pain and grief are juxtaposed with redemption and bliss.
Lanzano's narrative of his meeting Reverend Knowlin and his continuing relationship with Knowlin's community is a tale of self-discovery. It is also a testament to the power of faith in the lives of often forgotten South Carolinians. It is a rarity for a photographer to be granted such unlimited access into these communities. Through these images Lanzano creates with the utmost reverence and respect a powerful record of the hardships and hopes he witnessed among Knowlin's congregations to preserve their legacy and to share their inspirational attitude toward life in these true places.
"True Places is about life-changing journeys—the deeply felt personal journey of photographer Stanley Lanzano, the exuberant spiritual journey of the people he records, and our own immensely rewarding visual journey as we proceed through these remarkable images. There is a sense of spirit, honesty, and trust that radiates off these pages. As our world grows more urban and homogenized, True Places is a reminder that there are still places where people proudly maintain lives of spiritual commitment and service. Traveling through the South Carolina lowcountry with Lanzano provides a stirring visual experience and at the same time suggests we might each benefit from more grace in our lives."—Lynn Robertson, director, McKissick Museum
"Stanley Lanzano's photographic and narrative recordings of the spiritual lives of African Americans in the South Carolina lowcounty are profound in their sensitivity to a culture that is often misunderstood. The roles of the church, its congregation, and its pastors are essential to the fabric of rural southern communities in providing what Lanzano rightly identifies as 'direction, sensitivity, and hope' to all members of the community as they address the challenges of life. True Places illustrates these connections with honesty and integrity."—Jonathan Green, artist
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