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By David Policansky


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In this stunning collection, the photographer/author has fulfilled a long-term mission to photograph the captivating and evocative historic Catholic churches of the state of New Mexico. The mission became a journey that covered the highways, back roads, and SUV trails of the state, from north to south, east to west. He has driven these roads, photographing these churches that reflect New Mexico’s complex history and beautiful landscapes, and talked to many people who attend, maintain, and love them. His descriptions of the churches reflect that complex beauty and provide enough information for the reader to find each of them. The photographs and descriptions also reflect an urgency: many small, rural, historic churches in New Mexico lack funds for maintenance as rural populations decline, and some of them are at risk of disappearing forever. This volume covers the churches along the Rio Grande, a transportation and trade corridor for millennia and home to many of New Mexico’s oldest Catholic churches. The churches include famous and imposing ones like Holy Cross in Santa Cruz de la Cañada, with its glorious artwork, and more-modest ones off the beaten track like San Antonio Mission Church in Alamillo. They include churches from near the Mexican border in the south to Taos County in the north, covering not only a geographic span but a time span from the early 1700s to the 20th century. The churches reflect the diversity of New Mexico’s communities and history. Each is unique and each one claims the Land of Enchantment as home.

David Policansky was born in Cape Town, South Africa and came to the United States for his higher education. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University and masters and PhD degrees in biology from the University of Oregon. He taught biology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and did research, and has published more than 35 scientific papers. He later worked as a staff officer and scholar at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC where he directed or contributed to about 60 published reports. After living in Washington for many years, he and his wife spent more and more time in New Mexico, where they now live for half of the year, attracted by its spectacular landscapes and diverse and fascinating history and cultures.

David has been interested in churches, especially Catholic churches, for many decades. He began photographing New Mexico’s historic adobe, stone, and brick churches in 2005 and has continued to do so, with increasing urgency as it becomes clearer that these churches do not last forever. He says that he is not a historian or a regular church-goer, but photographing New Mexico churches together has deepened his appreciation of New Mexico’s marvelous cultural and natural landscapes, including the fact that the descendants of these New Spanish/Mexican colonists have been here as long and are just as American as the descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims. He adds that when you consider the even longer history here of the Native Americans, you can begin to understand the complexity and profundity of the factors that have led to the presence of these beautiful buildings all over New Mexico.

11 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-1-63293-368-3
126 pp.,$50.00

11 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-1-63293-364-5
126 pp.,$40.00

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