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Project on Religion and Urban Culture - Public Expression

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Artists and writers bring unique perspectives to questions of religion and spirituality, and a major component of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture has been to support and encourage their expression. Falling Toward Grace: Images of Religion and Culture from the Heartland (1998), is a collection of essays and photographs published by Indiana University Press in association with The Polis Center. As well, The Polis Center sponsored a photography exhibit featuring an expanded selection of images developed for the book project. It has been exhibited in various venues, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art (1999), and will be exhibited in Cologne, Germany, in 2001.

Photographer Tyagen Miller spent three years photographing the life of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis. Millerís compelling images tell the story of how one African-American congregation comes together as a community. The photographs have been featured in national photography magazines as well as in exhibitions, and will form the basis of a major exhibition, Covenant: Living in the Presence of God.

The Polis Center is working with a diverse group of citizens to develop Urban Tapestry, a book of personal narratives and photographs that help define life in Indianapolis, its triumphs and failures. Indianapolis is often viewed as homogenous and conservative; yet racial conflict, ethnic diversity, economic disparity, technological change, and progressive political and religious groups are part of our urban landscape. We also hope to create forums at public libraries and other gathering places at which individuals can come to hear each otherís stories.

In partnership with other local institutions, The Polis Center initiated and sponsors the Spirit and Place Festival each November. The festival features nationally known authors as well as local artists, writers, dancers, and performers who creatively explore the links between spirituality, creativity, and community in Indianapolis.

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