This project will provide the necessary funds to seed a photography expedition and touring art show that will raise awareness of the need for peace in the Middle East. I will travel to Bethlehem in March 2012 and spend one week completing a series of photographs begun two years ago. Then later in the spring I will embark upon a ten-city exhibit and speaking tour, presenting the photographs in houses of worship, universities, and community centers.
The most visible symbol of the inhumanity of conflict is the Wall that surrounds the Palestinian territories. Since its installation I have been both fascinated and horrified by this structure, so vast it is able to be seen from space. I feel that it is the perfect symbol of the human condition: a wall that keeps people out, and keeps people in; a wall that manifests an even greater set of barriers, those that exist between individuals and civilizations.
With this project I will be able to complete a missing part of the work I've already done. I will be able to tell the story of a Bethlehem family's home that is surrounded by the wall on three sides, separated from a vast olive grove once viewed from their front porch. I will be able to visit Israeli settlements that exist deep inside the West Bank behind the wall. I will be able to show the faces of people on both sides of this conflict cut off from each other by this fixture on the Israeli landscape.
This exhibit is a balanced look at certain features of this conflict. My work highlights the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians alike, yet points to the hope that people are capable of living in peace.
"Rev. Steven Martin uses photography and film-making to create respectful and affectionate portraits of all God's children including especially Jews and Muslims. Many of these people suffer from insult and disdain from other Christians. But he embraces them as an evangelical Christian, and that makes him a leader among evangelicals."
-Joseph V. Montville, Creator, Abrahamic Family Reunion Project, George Mason University
Complex conflicts in today’s world demand creative solutions. Steven's creativity, compassion, and giftedness as a photographer are on full display in the "Inheritance" program. He demonstrates the power of image to bring peace. The "Inheritance" exhibit is a visual peacemaking masterpiece. It goes right to the heart!
-Rick Love, President of Peace Catalyst International, Consultant for Christian-Muslim Relations
In all of his holy work, whether through his artistic productions or his applied theology in shepherding the New Evangelical Partnership, Steve Martin combines the sensitive eye of an artist with a passion for healing some of the most painful wounds of the past and present among the families descended from Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Having worked with him for years I can testify that his love for all people of whatever tradition provides him with a balance in his perspective which can trouble those with preconceived biases but is presented with respect and even leavened with humor when appropriate. As a filmmaker and ordained pastor he has explored the failures of faith that troubled the last century and he continues his healing mission with this photographic exhibit.
-Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Executive Director, Clergy Beyond Borders
"Rev. Steven D. Martin is a promoter of peace and goodwill at home and around the world, inspired by his evangelical Christian faith and manifested in his photography, filmmaking, and activism. Through his latest photographs from the Middle East, he brings to light a deep recognition of the Holy Land's beauty and significance to us all, amidst the conflict which often overshadows it. I hope his work will be viewed by many and that it may help bring about peace and justice to the region."
-Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America
"Reverend Steven Martin is passionate advocate for justice. His humility, honesty and deep compassion will educate and inspire. Steve models what is best in the world of interfaith today."
-Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Director of the Religious Studies Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
"Steve is a gifted photographer, peacemaker and spiritual leader. I am deeply moved by his images and his insights, and proud to call him a friend and colleague."
-Rabbi Amy Eilberg
"Rev. Steven Martin brings many gifts to make this exhibit capable of changing hearts and minds. As an evangelical committed to justice and peace in the Middle East, as a Christian absolutely committed to ending anti-Muslim sentiment, as an amazing artist who sees things that most of us don’t see, Steve has produced an exhibit that will bring tears and new perspectives."
-Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture