HISTORIC CATHOLIC CHURCHES OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO
By David Policansky
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In this second collection, the photographer/author has continued his 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 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 in central and southern New Mexico, churches south of Interstate 40. The churches include famous and imposing ones like San Esteban del Rey in Acoma Pueblo, and more modest ones off the beaten track like San Isidro Mission Church in Borica. They include churches from near the Mexican border in the south to the Arizona border in the west and the Texas border in the east, covering not only a wide geographic span but a time span from the 1600s 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 is not a historian or a regular church-goer, but photographing New Mexico churches 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. When you consider the even longer history of the Native Americans, you begin to understand the complexity and profundity of the factors that have led to the presence of these beautiful buildings all over New Mexico.
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