May 30, 2017 – Tumacacori

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“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Tumacacori is the site of Mission San José de Tumacácori, an 18th Century Franciscan mission. It takes its name from an earlier mission site founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691, which is on the east side of the Santa Cruz River south of the national park. This particular mission was founded at an extant native O’odham settlement and represents the first mission in southern Arizona.

The later Franciscan mission, now in ruins, was never rebuilt once it was abandoned after repeated Apache raids in the 19th century. Nearby Tubac was besieged in 1861.

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March 16, 2017 – Semana Santa

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Holy Week is an experience in the small towns dotted throughout the state of Chihuahua. A curious blend of native traditions and codified Catholicism are at play. Surrounding the chapel at Guadalupe Coronado, a procession of worshipers carry candles and walk in an organized line through the church, out the back, and around to the front again.

They do this for a complete twenty-four-hour cycle, without sleep, or food, or water.

This photograph was taken around two o’clock in the morning.

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March 15, 2017 – Iglesia Catolica de Creel

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The Iglesia Catolica Nuestra Señora de Lourdes (the catholic church of Our Lady of Lourdes) sits on the north side of Creel’s central plaza. Tarahumara women weave baskets and sew while children run around playing or begging for pesos to buy candy with. Stray dogs circle around waiting for people to drop food.

This is the hub of the town, fifty yards from the train and bus stations, the gateway to the main road and its restaurants and hotels. Ice cream carts, kids kicking soccer balls, and street vendors practically live here. What I always appreciated about this town square, though, is that the sellers aren’t aggressive. It isn’t like a border town, or a European train station, where desperate hucksters are waiting to coax money out of your pocket. The street sellers here sit on benches, or on the ground, and mind their business, hoping you will approach them. You never feel like people are out to get you in this place. It’s just a polite open-air market.

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March 14, 2017 – Semana Santa

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In the Copper Canyon region, there’s a blend of old-world tradition and new-world tradition. Native rites and contemporary Catholicism blend together. During Holy Week (semana santa), there are a number of distinct rituals that play out.

Outside of Urique, in a small village called Coronado, the surrounding communities come together for an event surrounded by demons, angels, corn beer, and theatrics.

Several players paint themselves in black and white paint and arm themselves with swords, halloween masks, toy guns, and run around the chapel as symbolic demons attempting to penetrate and destroy the holiest site in the community. Other players, mostly young boys arms with spears, burst from the chapel doors and chase the demons away.

This goes on for a full twenty-four hours.

A procession, all of the other citizens who aren’t play-acting, light candles and walk both around and through the chapel, all throughout the night. Wreathes of smoke and fire-lit faces dot the black night. Folks on the side, attending to watch and cheer the defenders – like spectators at a sporting event – drink corn-beer and talk amongst themselves.

This is both spectacle and ritual, secular and religious, communal and personal.

It is one of the most unique expressions of faith and community I have ever seen in my entire life.

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February 25 – San Xavier

02-25 San Xavier post“Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, You cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.”

~Plato

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February 10 – Virgin And Child

02-10 Virgin And Child post“Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”

~St. Bonaventure

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A stroll through the graveyard can do wonders.

Ever since I was in high school, I would go out of my way to walk the rows and read the headstones. I’m not sure why, but the company of the dead can be delightful and soothing. Rapscallions, ruffians, and other forms of ne’er–do–well manage to cobble together some civility in the graveyard; I have yet to see an individual act the fool in such a place. The grounds feel calm and safe.

I made this image on a camera I haven’t yet mentioned during Film February – the Yashica Twin Lens Reflex (TLR). It’s a wonderful two-lens camera (obviously) with a few fine-tune controls that allow for selective focus and a variety of shutter speeds in order to capture dynamic scenes with an accurate, properly-exposed shot.

To read more about the Yashica series, check it out here.

I certainly don’t celebrate the decapitated head of a child-savior, but it caught my eye. It seemed poetically appropriate, as the statue seemed to represent, on a smaller scale, what a cemetery represents on a larger scale – everything falls apart, and nothing lasts forever. We also might want to remind ourselves that Mary The Blessed Virgin outlived her extremist rabble-rouser of a son, which also makes this image ironically apropos.

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February 06 – Mission San Xavier del Bac

02-06 San Xavier postOn the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, about ten miles south of downtown Tucson, rests “the pearl of the Sonoran desert.” San Xavier del Bac is a Spanish Catholic mission, erected between 1783-1797 near a natural water spring fed by the Santa Cruz River. It’s the oldest European structure in Arizona, considered by many to be one of the greatest specimens of Spanish Colonial architecture. The natural spring no longer exists, and this stretch of the Santa Cruz only runs for part of the year.

This is one of my favorite places in the world. There’s no way I could every take an original photograph of it – it has been photographed countless times by tourists, photo enthusiasts, and professionals. Most famously, Ansel Adams turned his lens to the beautiful structure; the images reside at The Center for Creative photography on the University of Arizona campus.

This particular image was made in the Spring of 2001. This is one of the earliest visit I’d made to San Xavier, although I would make the drive out on a regular basis during my tenure at the University of Arziona. Up on the hilltop, in the background, is where I would often sit and listen to the wind. It’s the most peaceful, magical place. A wonderful site to clear one’s head.

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