LAVA Salon May 2015

The Photography of Kristin Bedford: Race, History & the Divine

Los Angeles-based photographer Kristin Bedford will be presenting her series of photographs about the legacy of the African-American religious leader Father Divine. The body of work delves into issues of race, American religious history, and the mystery of enduring faith.

Father Divine, known to his followers as God, once had tens of thousands of devotees in 1930s Harlem. To the outside world Father Divine died in 1965, but for his followers he “lay his body down” and is still with them as he always has been. Now in their seventies, eighties, and nineties, eighteen of the remaining celibate followers live with Mother Divine at Father’s estate outside of Philadelphia. In 2013, Kristin Bedford spent five weeks living with and photographing this community.

The followers, who call themselves “The International Peace Mission Movement,” are living a way of life and performing rituals created over eighty years ago by their God. With the lack of new followers, their movement is likely in its final chapter. Bedford had the chance to experience and photograph their traditions before they fade away.

The Father Divine presentation will be followed by an exclusive sneak peek of Bedford’s current photography project.

Biography

Kristin Bedford is a Los Angeles-based photographer who focuses on long-term visual studies of where we live – the streets we walk down, the places we worship in, the homes we create, and the spaces between them all. Her subjects have included religious movements, street culture in numerous urban centers, and the modern day legacy of historic African-American communities.

Kristin’s website

NY Times LENS Review