Photographs can provoke, engage, awe, and in some cases inspire an audience to consider the built environment in unexpected ways. In 2009, the National Building Museum
presents three photography exhibitions featuring the work of Richard Ross, Camilo José Vergara, and Philip Trager. All three may be broadly defined as architectural photographers, but each brings a unique focus to buildings we might have thought we knew. With this series of exhibitions, the National Building Museum broadens the definition of architectural photography and shares with audiences the scope and breadth of what photographs of buildings can do and mean.
Storefront Churches: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara narrates Vergaras 30-year exploration of the unassuming buildings that offer a place of worship in some of the poorest urban neighborhoods in the United States. These visually arresting color photographs of former storefrontsand homes, garages, factories, and warehousesthat have been remade into churches tell a story of faith and resourcefulness in places that have little else. Vergara was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002 and is undoubtedly one of the nations foremost urban documentarians. Storefront Churches marks the Museums fourth collaboration with Vergara and will be on view through November 29, 2009.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Vergara will participate in the Museums summer outreach program, Investigating Where We Live (IWWL), which empowers middle and high school students to explore and interpret city neighborhoods through photography, interviews, and creative writing. Now in its 14th year, IWWL was actually inspired by Vergaras 1996 exhibition at the Museum, The New American Ghetto: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara. Vergara will also give a public lecture this November on his work in conjunction with FotoWeek DC 2009.