Losing My Religion:

In this story I want to explore the demonization of religion in our society and its effects upon our communities. The pictures in my story where all taken of churches in the city of Lorain, OH. In an area of only a few blocks in the heart of Lorain, you can find a plethora of churches of many denominations. Some of the churches are active and well maintained, others look to be hanging on by a shoestring, while others are boarded, crumbling and for sale. I noticed community dinners and lunches offered, tables of clothes, shoe and other necessities outside the church for the struggling community. The community that surrounds these churches is highly impoverished and a diverse mix of African American, White and Hispanic. Like many cities, the story of Lorain is complex and stems back to a loss of industry in the steel mills, automotive, medical and shipping businesses. The question I am pondering through the subject/story “losing my religion” is why we tend to demonize the faithful, when the church is responsible for providing a moral foundation for many of our families. Without a strong family, I wonder where our youth might find a moral compass without the church?

I decided to narrate my story through pictures combined with song lyrics in an effort to connect art and music while letting the photographs and song lyrics “speak for themself” and the viewer draw their own inferences based upon their own world view. As with much art, the interpretation is subjective and rests with the viewer.

The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the US that means losing one’s temper or “at my wit’s end,” meaning as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. “Losing your religion” over a person, could mean that you’re losing faith in that particular person. I found this song and title appropriate for the times we are all going though transitions politically and personally as it relates to covid, our economy, and racial tensions.

This is a catholic church in the heart of Lorain right off of Broadway avenue and the statue of Mary is from St. Mary’s Catholic church in Vermilion.

Lorain housing projects, dilapidated shopping center and church through the weeds of shopping plaza. All photographs were taken from the shopping center parking lot. Several police cars made their rounds through this parking lot as I photographed. All were friendly!

This is a church in Lorain in the center of impoverished neighborhood just off of Broadway Ave. which is the town center with a beautiful refurbished theater “The Lorain Palace” and other businesses trying to make a come back. Every weekday I drive my 11 year old to the theater as he is part of the youth palace theater putting on The School of Rock musical in July. Perhaps this is why I wanted to connect my photographs to music.

Dilapidated church no longer in service for the community surrounded by housing that looked similar. A pit bull scared me off of this shoot and as I made my escape I saw the next church within 200 meters of this church.

This church had people working, watering, cleaning and appeared pristine against the backdrop of the poverty that surrounded it. As I drove around the back I saw the garden in the ghetto in the next slide.

It seemed that the garden was funded by the church although it was across the street. There was a man working in the garden and this got me thinking of all the kinds of nurturing that a church provides.

This photograph is a collage of four photographs taken on my walk to pick up my son from his musical practice. All were taken on the streets of Lorain where there seemed to be a church on every corner. Not all were open and running but those that were open are clearly trying to help their community.

This beautiful church was boarded up and among the several that I saw that could no longer sustain. Covid, community decline, degradation of the church? Probably all factors play a role.

This 1800’s rural church is 8 miles west of Lorain near Vermilion OH. This beautiful structure made me ponder the foundation of America that was built on freedom of religion and provided a moral compass for 100’s of years for our children.

I loved how St. John’s United Church of Christ in the heart of Lorain tries to connect with the people with the sign saying “ God answers knee mails”! This made me think of the church’s outreach in a digital world and what it really takes to “know God”.

Two churches on the corner in Lorain standing strong and overcoming adversity. This made me think of one of my favorite song, Closer to the Heart and so I will end with…. “ The blacksmith and the artist, reflect it in their art, they forge their creativity, closer to the heart, Yeah, closer to your heart!!”

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Yvonne Craigo

Yvonne Craigo

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Art teacher, mom and artist working on master degree in art education.