Between 1991 and 1994, Roma photographed people participating in services in African American Christian churches throughout his native Brooklyn. He began the project by photographing church architecture, but abandoned the buildings for the people inside after he was admonished by the pastor of a black congregation that God's work is performed not by the buildings but by the worship that takes place within.
The importance of religious life in African American tradition, although well known, is not well documented in photographs. Roma responded to the challenge of photographing in the often dim spaces with ease and speed by crafting an elaborate system of lights mounted on his shoulders that moved with him and illuminated the scene without flooding the foreground in brilliance or abandoning the background to shadow. The extra effort was well worth it, for the physical and emotional commitment of the congregation is made palpable in this picture, which suggests hope and the possibility of transcendence.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 143.