Lisa Anne Auerbach is capturing America’s new megachurches across the country.
Lisa Anne Auerbach is an American textile artist, magazine writer, and photographer. She is popular for her knitting work with humorous political themes. According to Auerbach, she first started noticing small places of businesses, like the key shops, barber shops, the post office, and so on, when she started riding around the city on her bicycle. The physically tiny buildings captured her attention, and she started photographing them. To her, the small businesses represented an idea, an embodiment of a specific American spirit. Auerbach identified herself with those places and hoped they identify with her. She, alone on her bike amidst the sea of big vehicles like SUVs, trucks, and so on, and the small buildings, amidst the tall skyscrapers and big buildings.
Then she was introduced to megachurches, and she started her megachurch project. According to Auerbach, she wanted her next project (after the small business buildings project) to show the other end of the spectrum, both politically and physically. To her, the megachurches looked similar to many of the big corporate buildings. The project was also driven by Auerbach's bewilderment at America's Evangelical Christian demographic. According to her, she had been reading about the megachurches, mostly in relationship to politics.
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Auerbach started her project by photographing the megachurches near her home and then traveled all over. So far she has covered Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina, and California. She only took pictures of the exteriors of the churches, to showcase the mega-buildings with the landscape. With the photographs she took, she made a jumbo-sized magazine. Currently, it is on view in a Paris exhibition called Wasteland: New Art from Los Angeles. When it was first exhibited, Auerbach employed two women to turn the pages so that the visitors could see the photographs in its entirety.
According to Auerbach, most of the megachurches are hidden. They are camouflaged. They just look like drive-through places. Many of them are located in suburban and exurban. The top 50 megachurches in the country have about 10,000 worshippers a week. Auerbach says that a lot of things the preachers of these megachurches preach are disturbing. Churches are explicitly prohibited from talking politics. However, the preachers do just that. The church has become a voting bloc.
According to Auerbach, the small individual businesses embodies ideas about freedom of expression, capitalism, and individual responsibility. The megachurch speaks of faith, family, community, and conservative morality. A combination of all these ideas is America pretty much in a nutshell.