The Evolution of Modern-day Religion in Southwestern America

Shot in the deserts of California and Nevada, Antone Dolezal’s series Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit traces varying elements that influence the formation of new religious movements, questioning traditional beliefs and reflecting upon ideologies beyond common convention.


The Southwestern United States possesses a strange tale of western settlers seeking a Utopian future. For those who aspire for divine knowledge it’s a place that holds the key to the mysteries of the cosmos. Luminous globes falling in arcs from the night sky, giant craters in the earth and unidentified radio signals all create fertile ground for conspiracy and myth to take root. Here beliefs both old and new intertwine, creating a realm where the magical and the ordinary are one and the same.

This work focuses on new religious movements of the region and the beliefs to which they adhere. Influenced by folklore of the American West, Sci-Fi cinema, secret military programs and Eastern and Indigenous mysticism, the religious faiths I follow form a complex and entangled story; one aiming to illuminate the boundaries of belief and offer a meditation into the ideologies meant to eclipse the cycle of conventional life.

My photographs are combined with documents and images acquired from government archives, as well as original manuscripts tracing the origins of several religious faiths. Through the layering of these elements, this work aims to grant access to the traumas, wonder and eccentric realities of those living just outside the periphery of popular conventions. I see myself as not only presenting the myths and histories I unearth, but also being an active participant in the evolution of their representation.

Words and Pictures by Antone Dolezal.







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Antone Dolezal is an American photographer whose work has been exhibited widely and is held in notable public collections including the Museum of Modern Art Library, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, and Whitney Museum of American Art - Special Collections. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.

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This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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