March 11, 2005
Colloquium Speaker: James P. Blair
Mr. James P. Blair was a National Geographic photographer from 1962 to 1994, during which time he published 47 stories and over 2000 pictures, including major coverage of Russia, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, West Africa, Iran, Greece, and the United States, as well as articles on agriculture, coal, astronomy, and the uses of photography in science. Since his retirement in 1994, he has remained a photographer at the National Geographic, while continuing to teach, publish, and photograph. He currently teaches in such venues as the Smithsonian Institution, the International Center for Photography in New York, and The Maine Workshops for Photography. His books include Our Threatened Inheritance and Mysteries of the Ancient World. His images are part of the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He has won awards from the Overseas Press Club of America, the National Press Photographers Association, and the White House News Photographers' Association.
Sensitivity and awareness are needed to depict a subject of major emotional impact such as God's secular homeland in these times of heightened nationalism, ethnic differences, and life-and-death religious struggles for dominance. As a contributing photographer for a new National Geographic book called The Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk, Mr. Blair will give the audience his own "take" on the subject, his own personal view. Guided by a spirit of respectful inquiry, his slide lecture will depict a portrait of the many faces of the divine as revealed in five great religions of the world, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. He has selected individual photographs that have touched him deeply, and he has woven a text showing the themes that are common among these religions, striving toward an understanding of our tumultuous world.