Photo Story: Hunter Barnes, "Randy Wolford"

Documentary photographer Hunter Barnes found himself living inside a small community of Serpent Handlers in the hills of West Virginia so that he might provide the world with a unique and intimate portrait of this fading religion of America. This devout way of life finds its roots in the King James Bible, with followers believing that the literal interpretation of passages of Mark and Luke regarding handling poisonous serpents and drinking lethal poisons is central to their faith. 

Barnes spent one month documenting and learning from the serpent handlers in West Virginia. In this photo story entitled "A Prayer for God's Will", he describes his relationship with pastor Randy Wolford and some of his first experiences he had living with the serpent handlers. 

"West Virginia is really the last state in America where serpent handling is legal. "A Prayer for God's Will" is really a prayer before the church service that the serpent will keep its mouth shut during the service. This was before the very first service this specific church ever had and so we went outside to pray for God's will.

I was actually living outside this church at the time and [Randy Wolford (pictured above)] became a very good friend of mine. He really let me understand what his whole faith was about."  – Hunter Barnes

Stop by Milk Gallery December 13th – December 23rd to view Hunter Barnes' "A Testimony of Serpent Handling" exhibition and join us this Thursday, December 13th from 7 – 10PM for the book signing and opening reception.

RSVP here: [email protected]

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