About the Book
Photographer David J. Pittenger sees the three crosses as something more than a rustic religious symbol. The crosses first represent a long tradition of people building small and monolithic monuments to express their beliefs. As such, the many Calvary installations represent the need for people to transform the space where they live to represent their values and beliefs. In doing so, Pittenger believes those who worked with Coffindaffer participated in a form of public art phenomenon. Using a near identical set of objects placed in vastly different locations throughout the state, Coffindaffer and his collaborators drew special attention to each location.
Because most people see the crosses while driving, they may not have the time or opportunity to look with care at each site. The power of photography, however, is to stop motion and create a composition that allows one to look and reflect with greater care.
In studying the Coffindaffer crosses, Pittenger found a new way to illustrate fascinating components of humanity and self-expression as well as the native beauty that defines the rolling hills and valleys of West Virginia.
I am an experimental psychologist and work at Marshall University. Psychologists like me have long studied how our eyes and brain work to allow us to see and perceive. When we talk about the sensation of seeing, we explain how our eyes respond to light to allow us to see form and color. When we talk about perception, we describe how we recognize, interpret, and respond to what we see. Photography, as with all art, is more than the sensation it creates and the perception that allows us to recognize a shape or object. Art causes us to stop and think. It evokes emotion, makes us reconsider the familiar, forces us to analyze the new, and allows us to create a fable to explain our reactions.