Robert Knight: In God’s House
Religious culture in America is constantly in flux and perhaps never more so that in the last 50 years, during which our society has gone through a dramatic social shift toward greater secularism and simultaneously has experienced the arrival of numerous immigrants of non-European and thus often of non-Christian backgrounds. The religious landscape has shifted dramatically as a result, with the decline and even closure of many mainline Christian churches, and the rise of new spaces to serve the new arrivals. In God’s House focuses on the adaptation of religious spaces and the communities they support in and around the Central New York city of Utica, a former manufacturing town along the Erie Canal which has lost 50% of its population since the 1960s. For the last three decades, Utica has had a dramatic influx of refugee and immigrant populations from around the world, and with that a number of new religious spaces have been created and re-created.
My artistic response utilizes photographs and video to examine how religious groups have and have not changed across a spectrum of different religions. My work reveals a resiliency across religious communities and a surprising flexibility with regard to the nature of each group’s notion of “sacred” space. This ability to adapt in the face of significant adversity ties together these diverse groups, and seems to stand as a hallmark essential for their survival.