Take Me to the Water: Photographs of River Baptism at International Center of Photography


NEW YORK, NY.- Religious rituals in America are not often public spectacles. A key exception is the tradition of river baptisms that flourished in the South and Midwest between 1880 and 1930. These outdoor communal rites were public displays of faith, practiced by thousands of Protestants, and witnessed by entire communities. A combination of economic depression and industrialization spurred religious fundamentalism in rural areas, and media-savvy preachers promoted mass revivals and encouraged a dialogue about religion in popular culture and media. Photographs of river baptisms often disseminated as postcards, both by worshippers documenting their personal life-affirming experiences and by tourists noting exotic practices and vanishing folk traditions will be on view at the International Center of Photography from January 21 to May 8, 2011. Photographs played an important role in documenting these river baptisms, especially in t