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Places of Worship: Vernacular Churches in Houston & L.A.

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Claudette Goux’s images will be on display at the UCR/California Museum of Photography beginning February 1, 2003 through May 4, 2003.

Places of Worship: Vernacular Churches in Houston and Los Angeles opening reception will be held February 1, 2003 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The fascinating edifices in Claudette Goux’s images of small urban churches exist at the intersection of popular culture and marginalized religious and societal experience. This is precisely the intersection that has defined the majority of folk art and outsider art created in America during the last 150 years.

Goux’s square frontal view of these churches, contextualized by their immediate urban environment, helps neutralize any romantic notion of their “quaintness” or high-brown concerns for their “awkwardness” and forces the viewer to confront and understand the visual aesthetic, architectural iconography, and religious expression of this phenomena in light of the economics, politics, and sociology of the neighborhood.

Her frontal street views further legitimize these churches as authentic American architecture, an architectural form that grows out of an amalgam of franchise advertising directed at the moving automobile, strip mall entrepreneurship, and down-home American borrowings, practicality and ingenuity.
Such venacular architecture has been documented before.

Indeed, fascination with such idiolmatic buildings have proven to be a staple of American documentary and street photography. Yet, perhaps because she comes to this phenomena from the great distance of growing up in Algeria and France. Claudette brings to her work a certain pristine clarity and objectivity ostensively unencumbered by the hotly contested American debates raging around race, class, immigration, and high versus low culture.

Claudette Goux is a graduate student in the UCR History of Art department and holds the Art History-UCR/CMP Fellowship.

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