Under Gods showcases the intimate work of photographer Liz Hingley, who studies the myriad of faiths that make up the fabric of contemporary British society. Focusing often on material expressions of faith, she uses photography to reveal how religions are uniquely experienced and inhabited by people.
Hingley developed this project by spending time in her own urban environment, Birmingham—England’s second-largest city—and carefully observing the diversity of its people on one street. Focusing often on material expressions of faith, she uses photography to reveal how religions are uniquely experienced and inhabited by people. In doing so, she shows faith-based practices that stand in thoughtful contrast to “official” versions of religion, or faith as defined by leaders and texts.
Hingley frequently travelled the two-mile stretch of Soho Road in Birmingham from 2007 to 2009 in order to document the rich diversity of religions that co-exist there. Immersing herself in that environment, she lived with and visited its different religious communities, including Thai, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese Buddhists; Rastafarians; Jesus Army evangelical Christians; Sikhs; Catholic nuns; and Hare Krishnas. Her photos reveal a perspective granted to a trusted and respected visitor, and more significantly, they show trust and respect in return. Many of the photographed moments are unguarded and from the edge of their lives, in that seamless part of life between ritual or prayer, and one’s social and private existences.
Hingley’s photos speak to viewers about the diversity of their own faiths and the marvel of its many material expressions. In previous iterations of this exhibition in the UK and France, Hingley collected both historical and contemporary objects connected to a wide spectrum of faiths and believers. As part of the exhibition at the VAC, Hingley will collect and exhibit objects that reflect, make, and define faith in the Austin community. In that sense, her work on Soho Road serves as a mirror by which to better understand the Austin community’s faiths and lives.
Under Gods is co-sponsored by the Visual Arts Center and the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts, with additional support from the departments of Anthropology, Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies, as well as the Program in British Studies and the Center for European Studies in The College of Liberal Arts. Hingley would like to thank Split Records for the ongoing support of her work.
Liz Hingley is an internationally recognized British photographer from Birmingham, UK. Her socially engaged photographs have won numerous international awards and have been exhibited and published around the world. Hingley holds a first-class BA (Hons.) in Editorial Photography from the University of Brighton and an MSc (with distinction) in Social Anthropology from University College London. She is currently the Artist-In-Residence in the Migration Research Unit at University College London where she continues her research into the trade of religious objects from China to France. She has also trained as an art educator and has led numerous workshops with schools, youth centers, and religious organizations.
About the Curator
Dr. Glenn Peers earned his PhD in the History of Art from Johns Hopkins University, and, while on leave in 2000–2001, he earned a Licentiate in Medieval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin since 1998. His publications include Subtle Bodies: Representing Angels in Byzantium (2001) and Byzantine Art, Sacred Shock: Framing Visual Experience in Byzantium (2004). Peers was recently a Whitehead Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and he is currently working on an exhibition on Byzantine materialism at the Menil Collection in Houston, for summer 2013.