Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Photography

Project Advisor 1

An-My Le

Abstract/Artist's Statement

When my granny was four years old, she contracted polio. She remembers sitting on the back porch on a hot summer day, drinking a Coke out of a glass, when all of a sudden the glass fell out of her hands. Her mom swooped in and picked her up. Lying on her mom’s bed, she remembers looking at the light coming in through the Venetian blinds and listening to the sirens of the ambulance getting closer. By the time she got to the hospital, she was completely paralyzed, needed an iron lung to breathe, and had to be fed intravenously. One day, the doctors told her family that she would not survive. Family and friends gathered around her bed and said a Mormon prayer—and my granny lived. From then on, the doctors referred to her as the “miracle patient.”

Hearing this story growing up made me believe in some sort of mystical, higher power. In the last two years, however, my grandfather has passed away and both of my grandmothers have been fighting cancer. These recent events have made me ponder their lives, the possibility of the afterlife, and my own spiritual and religious beliefs.

I am not a religious person; I believe more in the power of crossing your fingers than in praying to God. It feels strange to me that people depend on a church and a man at a podium to commune with God. Shouldn’t we be able to find God on our own through nature more so than through these man-made buildings? Without quite knowing what I believe in, I have approached these religious sanctuaries and objects with simultaneous awe and skepticism. I have tried to find the beautiful and the unusual in these unfamiliar places, which to me are otherwise devoid of a spiritual presence. Sometimes I feel like an imposter in these churches, wondering if the pastors and priests have noticed I’m wearing an ankh ring instead of a cross necklace.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, my granny was baptized Mormon. As a young teen she would go to the to the Mormon tabernacle and volunteer as a proxy for people who had passed away and never been baptized. She was dipped in the holy water one hundred and fifty times. When she was fourteen, she decided she no longer wanted to be associated with Mormonism­. At nineteen, she chose to be baptized Catholic. In total my granny was baptized one hundred and fifty-two times.

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