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Sunny Nash Documents Storefront Churches

July 6, 2015
Sunny Nash Author & Photojournalist

Sunny Nash
Author & Photojournalist

Photojournalist Sunny Nash first began her collection, Shopping for Hope, a study of storefront churches across America,” 20 years ago when the U.S. was experiencing a rise in violence occurring in urban, and especially storefront, churches.

“Churches were burning, ministers were being attacked and killed,” Nash said. “But those incidents were not the the only reason for my fascination with storefront churches. I saw these structures as representing an integral part of American culture and folklore, expressions of hope in hopeless neighborhoods. And they were disappearing before my eyes. In some cities, I was there days ahead of the wrecking ball.”

Nash, recognized by Women in Photography International, uses literature and visual media to preserve history, and to document contemporary urban life. A selection of 40 of the Nash Shopping for Hope images from New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Santa Fe and Nashville will be on display at the Collaborative Gallery, 421 W. Broadway, Long Beach, California, in honor of her 2015 Arts Council for Long Beach Artist Fellowship.

Screen Door Church by Sunny  Nash

Screen Door Church by Sunny Nash

The show curators, Marco Schindelmann and Kamran Assadi, will also feature works by other 2015 Arts Council for Long Beach Artist Fellowship recipients, who appeared together at the Long Beach Museum of Art. They include: Dramatist, storyteller and performer, Yulya Dukhovny; award-winning filmmaker, Pamela K. Johnson; Textile artist, social activist and scholar, Carole Frances Lung; and award-winning artist, Olga Lah. Curator, Marco Schindelmann, Artist Professor of Voice and Director of the University Opera at the University of Redlands, has performed as a soloist, throughout Europe and Japan. Curator, Kamran Assadi, has for many years been an advocate, active member and creative leader in the Long Beach arts community.

Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840 - Present

Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840 – Present

“I began photographing storefront churches in Houston in 1989,” Nash said. “And those burglar-barred structures with crooked crosses landed me a cover story when I was a columnist for the Houston Chronicle’s Texas Magazine. From there, I got a feature on ABC Network, Good Morning Houston, and an exhibition at the Houston Public Library. Soon, I got an invitation to speak at the Holocaust Museum symposium, “Church Burnings: A Community Response, A Town Hall Panel Discussion.”

In 1991, New York’s Schomburg Center for the Study of Black Culture began collecting Nash’s Hope images, and featured Nash photographs in a Schomburg symposium on religion in America. In 1992, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. acquired 52 images for its inventory on religion. In 2001, two of Nash’s photographs toured internationally with Smithsonian Exhibition, Reflections in Black: a history of black photographers, 1840 – the present, which was published by W.W. Norton.

Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s about life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement, a best-selling memoir selected by the Association of American University Presses as a book for understanding U.S. race relations; and recommended by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida for Native American collections. homepage

© 2015 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. 

 ~Thank You~

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