ARTS & CULTURE

Portraits Of Men And Women Who Have Converted To Islam Challenge Our Perception Of 'American'

02/04/2014 08:32 am 08:32:47 | Updated Feb 05, 2014

In a gorgeous series titled "The Converts," photographer Claire Beckett captures portraits of the American men and women who have chosen to convert to Islam. Her stunning photos reveal the faces of these new Muslims in the United States, individuals who were not born into the religion but have found the faith later in life.

claire

Salih, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

"The project stems from ideas that have interested me in my work for years," Becket explains on her website. "What does it mean to be an American? Who are we as a people, and how do we define ourselves? How do we understand our country in relation to other nations and cultures? In a society that, however falsely, often constructs 'American' and 'Muslim' as diametrical opposites, what is the experience of people who traversed this imagined line?"

sarah

April and her daughter Sarah, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

In her brightly lit, saturated images, Beckett focuses on perception and identity, exploring not only the subjects' physical image as "converts" but also the viewers' understanding of religious culture in the U.S.

It's not the first time Beckett has investigated the collision of historic and contemporary imagery in America. Her previous project, "Simulating Iraq," highlighted the world of American military training camps preparing soldiers for deployment; bases that were made to look like Iraq and Afghanistan through the use of costumes, props and role-playing individuals.

mary

Mary, 2012, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

Scroll through a preview of "Converts" here and let us know your thoughts on the project in the comments.

robby

Robby, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

suhaib

Imam Suhaib Webb, 2012, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

yusuf

Patricia and her son Yusuf, 2012, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

efendi

Hans and his teacher Lokman Efendi, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

prayer beads

Prayer beads collection, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

women

Women’s section of the prayer hall, Naksibendi Hakkani Dergahi, 2013, 40” x 50” archival inkjet photograph from a 4”x5” negative

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