The Serenity of Knowing

For five years, I photographed a man as he copied the Bible by hand. His name was Phillip Patterson and his life was his art. We met in 2009 in a doctor’s office where I worked and he was a patient. 

I spent numerous days looking over Phillip’s shoulder and shooting photographs as he steadily copied each word from the Bible onto large sheets of watercolor paper. We regularly spoke at local church events about the project and our work together. During every presentation, at least one attendee expressed motivation and validation to do their own “big project.” Even after he finished binding the final eighth volume of the handwritten bible, we continued our collaboration, with me photographing his life until he died in 2014. By then, our project had received international news coverage, from media ranging from the BBC to NPR to the Howard Stern Show. Later that year, StoryCorps recorded an interview I conducted with Phillip’s daughter, which is now archived in the Library of Congress.

The finished volumes of Phillip’s work were donated to his church in 2016 and are available in a special exhibition space that’s open to the public day or night, as the church doors are never locked.

Project by:
Laura Glazer, Phillip Patterson

Albany, New York
Philmont, New York