Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.
For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.
Yesterday we had the treat of being able to tour the Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham on our way home from UAB, and what a gorgeous church it is. If you haven’t been to Birmingham, Alabama before, the Magic City has a ton of things to see, but the skyline around town has several incredible churches that sit nestled into the rolling hillside between downtown skyscrapers and medical buildings. Many of these churches were built around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, and this is one of them, founded in 1915, with the sanctuary being completed in 1926. I absolutely love getting to visit and photograph churches like this, I just rarely get the opportunity to do so.
Unfortunately I did not come prepared to do cathedral-type, stain glass, wide angle vaulted ceiling church photography when I left the house yesterday morning (not sure why, I should always be prepared for anything), but I did have my cell phone with me. The shot above was taken with my iPhone, so it doesn’t quite give you the overall beauty that a super-wide fisheye lens would do (like when I shot this museum in Auburn), but it worked ok yesterday, and I love getting creative with iPhoneography. I know one iPhone photo does not make a photo essay, so call this a preview for “some day.” They say one photo is worth a thousand words, and I could probably do that here, so for now one photo will have to do. Hopefully some day I will be able to go back and do a proper job with tripod in hand.
As with all things, change is inevitable. Change is actually the one thing that actually stays constant, and this week we began an extensive remodeling process that would bring the vision of Cornerstone Church together. After more than a year of planning, in February 2012, Cornerstone opened its first off-site location, called our Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott site. The leadership of the church envisioned a multi-site church, a single church with multiple locations, one where the worship experience, the DNA of the church, would be the same no matter which site you visited. To accomplish this, among many other things, it was decided we needed to remodel the kids area to match all other sites, present and future, which brings me to this post.
Back in 2005, a few years before Deb and I arrived, our local church started to execute plans for a new building. As you can imagine there were so many different aspects of planning and visioning that went on among the staff and executive council at the time, and one of those areas was what we call Kidztown (our children’s area). A vision was put together by the then youth and children’s director for what type of environment would greet the kids visually when they came into the Kidztown area. This vision included a fun themed design of murals with different shops and stores for each room.
Once the theme had been envisioned the hunt was on for an artist who could make this vision come to life. Cornerstone Church decided to hire a local artist, Cindy Massey, to make this vision come alive on the walls of the kids area, and she did. The amazing part of the story is how God works through the church body because after she finished painting the walls of this new church building her family started coming to Cornerstone, and they were some of the pioneers who started the new Lee-Scott site! For about seven years now the kids have walked through the halls of her artistic work, which covered just about every inch of wall and window space we had.
So, here, to honor the work of an artist we hired to cover the walls of the church with beautiful murals, I present a small sampling of that work. Please keep in mind, this is one artists rendition of another artists work (kinda weird), so, along with the thousands and thousands of kids who graced these halls, this is what I will remember about her work. I know Cornerstone appreciates and values the work she did, and I’m glad I can showcase a bit of that here. Thanks Cindy!
After shooting in Auburn for more than five years now I had never been over to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, and it was quite nice. They were very gracious to allow me to shoot in the non-art areas of the museum and the architecture made for some great shots. I would have loved to have gone in with my tripod and been able to really setup and get some details in each room but maybe another time when they need some shots for the city or something. Anyway, if you are in Auburn it’s a nice quiet place with some very nice pieces and I finally got to use my fisheye lens on some clean walls.