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 Several years ago I made my first trip to a small plot of land in the Mohave Desert where a woman named Maria Paula had been having monthly visions of the Virgin Mary. Over the years I made dozens of trips to photograph the vision events, rituals, and pilgrims who looked to Maria Paula as Maria Paula looked to the sky - and became fascinated by the slippery role that photographs played in the community Maria Paula had cultivated.  While the visionary conveyed messages from the Virgin, pilgrims pointed their cameras toward the sun, hoping to capture evidence that the Virgin was nearby. Over time, they developed a lexicon of meaning for the thin, dim  impressions  left on polaroids, pocket cameras, and cell phones. The over/under exposure of a polaroid photograph made by pointing the camera directly toward the sun might be the gates of heaven; a lens flare might be the Virgin herself. Long-term members of the community helped newcomers interpret and understand their images, and the visionary directed them about when and where the Virgin lingered.  On a late November morning a few years ago Maria Paula interrupted her monologue to announce that the Virgin was nearby. As some pilgrims wept others quickly began taking pictures, but the woman standing next to me looked toward the sky with a knowing grin. After a few minutes she introduced herself as Ada Luz, and when I said I had 'missed it', she said I was facing the right direction, but looking the wrong way. Ada's view of things had less to do with what was visible to the eye, than with the potential of what might exist beyond our sight lines. For Ada the pictures being passed around were simply the residue of longing, and open minds in search of something divine.  Many of my trips to the Mohave were made with a good friend and historian named  Lisa Bitel . Our shared curiosity grew into a long term collaboration, and was  just published by Cornell University Press . 

Several years ago I made my first trip to a small plot of land in the Mohave Desert where a woman named Maria Paula had been having monthly visions of the Virgin Mary. Over the years I made dozens of trips to photograph the vision events, rituals, and pilgrims who looked to Maria Paula as Maria Paula looked to the sky - and became fascinated by the slippery role that photographs played in the community Maria Paula had cultivated.

While the visionary conveyed messages from the Virgin, pilgrims pointed their cameras toward the sun, hoping to capture evidence that the Virgin was nearby. Over time, they developed a lexicon of meaning for the thin, dim impressions left on polaroids, pocket cameras, and cell phones. The over/under exposure of a polaroid photograph made by pointing the camera directly toward the sun might be the gates of heaven; a lens flare might be the Virgin herself. Long-term members of the community helped newcomers interpret and understand their images, and the visionary directed them about when and where the Virgin lingered.

On a late November morning a few years ago Maria Paula interrupted her monologue to announce that the Virgin was nearby. As some pilgrims wept others quickly began taking pictures, but the woman standing next to me looked toward the sky with a knowing grin. After a few minutes she introduced herself as Ada Luz, and when I said I had 'missed it', she said I was facing the right direction, but looking the wrong way. Ada's view of things had less to do with what was visible to the eye, than with the potential of what might exist beyond our sight lines. For Ada the pictures being passed around were simply the residue of longing, and open minds in search of something divine.

Many of my trips to the Mohave were made with a good friend and historian named Lisa Bitel. Our shared curiosity grew into a long term collaboration, and was just published by Cornell University Press

December 13, 2007 (morning rosary)

December 13, 2007 (morning rosary)

December 13, 2009

December 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

December 13, 2009

December 13, 2009

October 13, 2006 (Mustang and family)

October 13, 2006 (Mustang and family)

May 13, 2007

May 13, 2007

July 24, 2007

July 24, 2007

April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008

May 13, 2007

May 13, 2007

August 13, 2006

August 13, 2006

July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

May 13, 2007

May 13, 2007

November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006

33_20081213_1439.jpg
July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008

December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011

November 13, 2006 (Ada Luz)

November 13, 2006 (Ada Luz)

49_20080724_1421.jpg
Impressions, 2006-2011

Impressions, 2006-2011

November 13, 2006 (talking to the Virgin)

November 13, 2006 (talking to the Virgin)

56_20060613_1205.jpg
June 13, 2006

June 13, 2006

57_20070513_1246.jpg
July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

72_20081213_1409.jpg
March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

Laying of Hands, 2006-2011

Laying of Hands, 2006-2011

December 13, 2006 - May 13, 2007

December 13, 2006 - May 13, 2007

74_20081213_1455.jpg
July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010

77_20100724_0645.jpg
April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008

78_20071213_1514.jpg
79_20111213_1425.jpg
82_20061113_1244.jpg
July 24, 2011

July 24, 2011

July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

Several years ago I made my first trip to a small plot of land in the Mohave Desert where a woman named Maria Paula had been having monthly visions of the Virgin Mary. Over the years I made dozens of trips to photograph the vision events, rituals, and pilgrims who looked to Maria Paula as Maria Paula looked to the sky - and became fascinated by the slippery role that photographs played in the community Maria Paula had cultivated.

While the visionary conveyed messages from the Virgin, pilgrims pointed their cameras toward the sun, hoping to capture evidence that the Virgin was nearby. Over time, they developed a lexicon of meaning for the thin, dim impressions left on polaroids, pocket cameras, and cell phones. The over/under exposure of a polaroid photograph made by pointing the camera directly toward the sun might be the gates of heaven; a lens flare might be the Virgin herself. Long-term members of the community helped newcomers interpret and understand their images, and the visionary directed them about when and where the Virgin lingered.

On a late November morning a few years ago Maria Paula interrupted her monologue to announce that the Virgin was nearby. As some pilgrims wept others quickly began taking pictures, but the woman standing next to me looked toward the sky with a knowing grin. After a few minutes she introduced herself as Ada Luz, and when I said I had 'missed it', she said I was facing the right direction, but looking the wrong way. Ada's view of things had less to do with what was visible to the eye, than with the potential of what might exist beyond our sight lines. For Ada the pictures being passed around were simply the residue of longing, and open minds in search of something divine.

Many of my trips to the Mohave were made with a good friend and historian named Lisa Bitel. Our shared curiosity grew into a long term collaboration, and was just published by Cornell University Press

December 13, 2007 (morning rosary)

December 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

December 13, 2009

October 13, 2006 (Mustang and family)

May 13, 2007

July 24, 2007

April 13, 2008

May 13, 2007

August 13, 2006

July 24, 2008

May 13, 2007

November 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

April 13, 2008

December 13, 2011

November 13, 2006 (Ada Luz)

Impressions, 2006-2011

November 13, 2006 (talking to the Virgin)

June 13, 2006

July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

March 13, 2009

Laying of Hands, 2006-2011

December 13, 2006 - May 13, 2007

July 24, 2010

April 13, 2008

July 24, 2011

July 13, 2006

 Several years ago I made my first trip to a small plot of land in the Mohave Desert where a woman named Maria Paula had been having monthly visions of the Virgin Mary. Over the years I made dozens of trips to photograph the vision events, rituals, and pilgrims who looked to Maria Paula as Maria Paula looked to the sky - and became fascinated by the slippery role that photographs played in the community Maria Paula had cultivated.  While the visionary conveyed messages from the Virgin, pilgrims pointed their cameras toward the sun, hoping to capture evidence that the Virgin was nearby. Over time, they developed a lexicon of meaning for the thin, dim  impressions  left on polaroids, pocket cameras, and cell phones. The over/under exposure of a polaroid photograph made by pointing the camera directly toward the sun might be the gates of heaven; a lens flare might be the Virgin herself. Long-term members of the community helped newcomers interpret and understand their images, and the visionary directed them about when and where the Virgin lingered.  On a late November morning a few years ago Maria Paula interrupted her monologue to announce that the Virgin was nearby. As some pilgrims wept others quickly began taking pictures, but the woman standing next to me looked toward the sky with a knowing grin. After a few minutes she introduced herself as Ada Luz, and when I said I had 'missed it', she said I was facing the right direction, but looking the wrong way. Ada's view of things had less to do with what was visible to the eye, than with the potential of what might exist beyond our sight lines. For Ada the pictures being passed around were simply the residue of longing, and open minds in search of something divine.  Many of my trips to the Mohave were made with a good friend and historian named  Lisa Bitel . Our shared curiosity grew into a long term collaboration, and was  just published by Cornell University Press . 
December 13, 2007 (morning rosary)
December 13, 2009
March 13, 2009
December 13, 2009
October 13, 2006 (Mustang and family)
May 13, 2007
July 24, 2007
April 13, 2008
May 13, 2007
August 13, 2006
July 24, 2008
May 13, 2007
November 13, 2006
33_20081213_1439.jpg
July 13, 2006
April 13, 2008
December 13, 2011
November 13, 2006 (Ada Luz)
49_20080724_1421.jpg
Impressions, 2006-2011
November 13, 2006 (talking to the Virgin)
56_20060613_1205.jpg
June 13, 2006
57_20070513_1246.jpg
July 24, 2008
July 24, 2008
72_20081213_1409.jpg
March 13, 2009
Laying of Hands, 2006-2011
December 13, 2006 - May 13, 2007
74_20081213_1455.jpg
July 24, 2010
77_20100724_0645.jpg
April 13, 2008
78_20071213_1514.jpg
79_20111213_1425.jpg
82_20061113_1244.jpg
July 24, 2011
July 13, 2006