By Alison Zavos in New Photography on Monday 13 October 2008

The vibrant and intricate work of photographer Dave Jordano is full of subtle meaning and deft use of colour. His series on African-American churches is particularly illuminating. We spoke to him about it: How long have you been documenting small African-American churches in Chicago and what made you decide to embark on this project? ‘The project of documenting African American storefront churches came about quite by accident. I was working on another project just over the Illinois/Indiana border and my route took me over the Chicago Skyway Bridge. I would often look down onto a small plain industrial building that had a large hand painted sign above it’s door that read, “Cathedral of Divine Love Church.” I was impressed that this pastor felt that his little nondescript building was worthy of being called a cathedral. This notion stuck with me for quite some time and I just couldn’t shake it off. Finally, after several weeks of driving by the building, I decided to stop and introduce myself and ask if I could photograph the church. The pastor’s obvious remark was, “Services start in about an hour, you can come by after everyone has arrived.” My response was, “No, what I really had in mind was to photograph the church empty and that I was mainly interested in how he had decorated and set it up.” This threw up a cloud of suspicion as he thought my request was rather odd. I persisted, and after much discussion about my intentions, God, and religion, he granted me permission. I felt as if I had been the center of an inquisition, but rightly so. It was important that I had the trust of every pastor, that they knew my intentions were sincere, and that I had a great deal of respect for their church. I went back several times over the next month and made more photographs’.

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