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Test of Faith Book Launch and Exhibition Opening Is Next Week!

November 16, 2017, 5:30–7:30 p.m.: An opening event at Duke’s Rubenstein LibraryPhotography Gallery for the exhibition Test of Faith: Signs, Serpents, Salvation that includes a reception, artist’s talk, and book signing

In 2016, Lauren Pond was chosen by curator Peter Barberie of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to win the eighth biennial Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography for her color series documenting, as Pond writes, “a family of Pentecostal Holiness serpent handlers that I have photographed since 2011.”

Serpent handlers, also known as Signs Followers, hold a literal interpretation of a verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark, which states that, among other abilities, true believers shall be able to ‘take up serpents.’ Despite scores of deaths from snakebites and the closure of numerous churches, there remains a small contingent of serpent handlers devoted to keeping the practice alive.

As well as a first book (published by Duke University Press and the Center for Documentary Studies), the photographer receives a solo exhibition at Duke University’s new Rubenstein Photography Gallery. The photographs are then placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

View a gallery of images on the First Book Prize website and read an article about her work, “How Can Journalists Cross Cultural Divides in the Age of Trump?: Getting to Know a Pentecostal Snake Handler Might Provide an Answer,” that appeared in Pacific Standard.


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