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Documentary Photographer to Exhibit Work About Serpent Handling

Downtown Campus Library, Ground Floor | October 6, 2018 - November 1, 2018

Lauren Pond, an award-winning documentary photographer based in Columbus, Ohio, will speak on October 22 about her recent book, Test of Faith: Signs, Serpents, Salvation (Duke University Press: 2017), which chronicles the life, death, and legacy of Pastor Mack Wolford, a Pentecostal serpent handler from West Virginia. Her presentation will take place at 4:00 p.m. in room 104 of WVU's Downtown Campus Library. An exhibit of photographs from Pond's book will also be on display on the ground floor of the library through the month of October.

Test of Faith provides a deeply nuanced, personal look at the Signs Following faith, an often sensationalized and misunderstood religious tradition concentrated in Appalachia. As a demonstration of their obedience to God, Signs Followers handle venomous snakes during their worship services. Pond's work chronicling the Wolford family also serves as a meditation on photography, its ethics, and its capacity to generate empathy. Test of Faith won the 2016 Duke Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.

Pond is the manager of the Fresh A.I.R. Gallery and a multimedia producer for the Center for the Study of Religion at the Ohio State University. She earned a B.S. and a B.A at Northwestern University in 2009 and an M.A. from Ohio University in 2014. Her photographs have been displayed in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and in Australia. Pond regularly collaborates with scholars and has spoken extensively on her work at academic conferences and universities.

The exhibit and presentation are made possible through the Mary L. Thomas Endowment in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Reed College of Media, and the Office of Multicultural Programs.

For more information, contact Rosemary Hathaway at All images copyright Lauren Pond Photo.