Tom Rankin (aka Thomas Settle Rankin)
negative 1989; printed 1994
From the series, Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta
North America, American, Mississippi
14 1/8 in. x 17 7/8 in. (35.88 cm x 45.4 cm)
Medium and Support:
Gelatin silver print on paper
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Scott
Rankin's photographic view entitled "Estill," dated 1989, is the first plate in "Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta", a group of forty duotone plates of his photographs of African-American churches. "Estill "is the only photograph in the book that shows both a church building and water—emblems of Christianity and baptism, the Church’s initiation ritual. As such, it is a fitting introduction to the sequence of 39 plates that follow—images of churches, cemeteries, pastors, congregants, and baptisms.
The church, New Hope Missionary Baptist, is the dominant object in this photograph, just as religion is the dominant force in the lives of the unseen congregation—the rock amid the winds and waves of life. In making the church the focus of this photograph, Rankin created a visual metaphor of the church, which he says is "the meeting place," the heart of the community.