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Guide to the Lauren Pond photographs, 2011-2016

Summary

Collection consists of 49 color inkjet prints from the documentary project Test of Faith by photographer Lauren Pond. The images are approximately 20x14 inches in size and are unmatted. Between 2011 and 2016, Pond documented the life, death, and West Virginian family of Pentecostal pastor and serpent handler, Mack Wolford, of the Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, West Virginia. The series includes images of Wolford's death in his family home after he was bitten by the venomous snake. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11506
Title
Lauren Pond photographs
Date
2011-2016
Extent
.5 Linear Feet, 2 boxes; 49 prints
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English.

Collection Overview

Content Description

This collection consists of 49 color inkjet prints from the documentary project Test of Faith by photographer Lauren Pond. The images measure approximately 20x14 inches and are unmatted. Between 2011 and 2016, Pond documented the life, death, and West Virginian family of Pentecostal pastor and serpent handler, Mack Wolford, of the Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, West Virginia. The series includes images of Wolford's death in his family home after he was bitten by the venomous snake.

In an artist's statement, Pond writes: "Serpent handlers, also known as Signs Followers, belong to a small Appalachian Pentecostal Holiness sect that holds a literal interpretation of the King James Bible's Mark 16:17-18. This passage describes the 'signs' of true believers, including the ability to 'take up serpents.' Believing in absolute obedience to God's Word, Signs Followers handle venomous snakes during their worship services. If bitten, they generally do not seek medical treatment, and instead, entrust their fate to God."

"Seeking a deeper understanding of serpent handlers and their faith, in 2011, Lauren traveled to West Virginia and met Mack, who invited her to document both his worship services and daily life. The course of her work changed dramatically in 2012, when she attended a worship service where Mack was fatally bitten by a rattlesnake. Through her images, Lauren illustrates her relationship with Mack and his family, the challenging experiences they have shared, and the insights these have given her into the tenets of the Signs Following faith – namely, forgiveness and renewal."

Test of Faith is the 2016 winner of Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, given by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Arrangement

The prints are arranged in their body of work in chronological order as received.

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research. Images may only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes; any other use requires the photographer's permission.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Lauren Pond photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Old Yeller, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0001
Pastor Mack Wolford's rattlesnake slithers around his neck during an outdoor worship service, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0002
Mack with Old Yeller, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
(14 x 20 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0003
Pearl Dawson, Mack's mother-in-law; Vicie "Snook" Haywood, his mother; and Chris Wolford, his brother, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0004
Mack at an outdoor worship service, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0005
Church of the Lord Jesus, Jolo, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0006
Mack and parishioners during a homecoming worship service, Jolo, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0007
Mack with Harvey Payne, pastor of the Church of the Lord Jesus, Jolo, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0008
Mack in his church, the Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus, Matoaka, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0009
Mack at his and his wife, Fran's, home, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0010
Mack and Fran's kitchen, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0011
Snook and Mack at Bible study at Snook's house, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0012
Serpents in Mack and Fran's spare bedroom, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0013
Mack at home with his morning coffee, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0014
Mack on a serpent hunt during a documentary film shoot, near Jolo, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0015
Mack on his way to Bible study, Fran in the background, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2011
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0016
2:16 p.m.: Snook, Panther Park, West Virginia, May 27, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0017
2:20 p.m.: Mack with Old Yeller just after the snake bit him, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(19 3/8 x 13 7/8 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0018
2:21 p.m.: Jamie Lloyd with Snook, Mack, and Old Yeller, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0019
2:27 p.m., Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(20 1/2 x 14 inches)
Box 2
Image RL.11506-P-0020
2:42 p.m., Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0021
3:00 p.m., Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0022
3:03 p.m., Panther Park, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0023
6:33 p.m.: Jason Stone with Mack at Pearl's house, Brushfork, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0024
6:21 p.m.: Snook with Mack at Pearl's house, Brushfork, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0025
10:50 p.m.: Snook; Robin Wolford-Brandon, Mack's sister; and Elijah Wood, Mack's nephew, Brushfork, West Virginia, 2012
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0026
Anniversary service at the Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus, Matoaka, West Virginia, 2013
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0027
The Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus, one year after Mack's death, Matoaka, West Virginia, 2013
(19 7/8 x 13 7/8 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0028
Old Yeller in Snook's spare bedroom, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2013
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0029
Snook, Bramwell, West Virginia, 2013
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0030
Snook with a customer at the Bramwell Café, Bramwell, West Virginia, 2013
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0031
Elijah playing Mack's songs for Mack's niece Amber McLaughlin, Robin, and Fran after Thanksgiving dinner, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2014
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0032
Elijah and Amber, Bramwell, West Virginia, 2013
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0033
Jason and Snook with serpents, Matoaka, West Virginia, 2013
(20 3/4 x 14 inches)
Box 2
Image RL.11506-P-0034
Foot washing at a worship service, Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 2016
(19 7/8 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0035
Mack's brother Kevin Wolford and Old Yeller at Snook's house, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2014
(20 3/8 x 14 inches)
Box 2
Image RL.11506-P-0036
Fran at home, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2014
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0037
Mack's guitar at Fran's house, 2014
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0038
Pearl, Brushfork, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0039
Fran picking corn at her father and stepmother's house, Brushfork, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0040
On the porch at Snook's house, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0041
Family gathering at Snook's house, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0042
Snook in her living room, Bluefield, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0043
Brushfork, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0044
Worship service at the Wolfords' new church, the House of Prayer in the Name of the Lord Jesus, where Chris is pastor, Squire, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0045
Chris with Michael McLaughlin, Amber's husband, Squire, West Virginia, 2016
(20 1/2 x 14 inches)
Box 2
Image RL.11506-P-0046
Chris walking on a serpent, Squire, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0047
Snook, Robin, and Elijah, Squire, West Virginia, 2016
(20 x 14 inches)
Box 2
Image RL.11506-P-0048
Snook, Squire, West Virginia, 2016
(14 x 20 inches)
Box 1
Image RL.11506-P-0049
 

Historical Note

Lauren Pond is a documentary photographer based in Ohio.


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The Lauren Pond photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2017.

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Sylvia Herbold, October 2017.

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2017-0127.