Mary Lou Uttermohlen

Spiritual YaYa
Location: New Orleans, LA
Nationality: American
Biography: I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the boondocks of West Virginia. Being a country girl I developed a deep fascination for new people and what they are driven to create consciously or subconsciously. My photography feels... MORE
Public Story
Spiritual YaYa
Copyright MaryLou Uttermohlen 2023
Updated Apr 2016
Topics Belief, Buddhism, Celebrations, Children, Christianity, Civil Rights, Community, Documentary, Editorial, Emotion, Energy, Environmental, Faith, Freedom, Happiness, Health/Healing, Hinduism, Human Rights, Latin America, Peace, Peacekeeping, Personal, Photojournalism, Privacy, Religion, Sikhism, Spirituality, Street, Travel, Vacation

Spiritual YaYa offers a peek behind the veil shrouding the spiritual mysteries of New Orleans. The series visits a variety of spiritual groups that intermingle here like the ingredients in a pot of gumbo. It explores mainstream rituals like Mari Gras, St. Joseph's Day, All Saints Days and Christmas Eve Bonfires but then it digs deeper into small private spiritual communities.

The word YAYA in the title comes from the language of the slaves brought here to work on plantations. The word originated from the Yoruban tribe in Africa and it means divine. Today the word used as a sign of endearment for aging southern woman. Like the word YAYA, culture has a way of getting transformed in Louisiana. People cherish their beliefs and resist change yet over time customs morph together.

What once belonged to someone else becomes ours. It is this intermingling of traditions that creates the soul of New Orleans today. Another aspect that keeps the spirit of New Orleans vibrant is the strong sense of community. Families stay in neighborhoods and groups generation after generation.

Some preach that New Orleans is a portal where the veil between the realms is easier to cross. Tourists, evangelicals, energy workers, psychics, healers and ghost hunters arrive like pilgrims in anticipation of a supernatural adventure.

While the city remains predominately Catholic, many religions coexist and here. Yet the interest of this documentary is not what is here but what is unique and special about what happens here. To discover this means crossing out of any comfort zone one may have and venturing into the unknown to experience new things. Out there away from the beaten path are religions that existed well before Catholicism and a few that are blended with it since attempts to covert people failed.

Photographing this broad topic requires weaving in and out of communities with the manners of a humble guest. It is a gift to be allowed to document sacred moments. People worship for their own personal connection with the divine and with no desire to be recorded in their private moments. Creating this series is a sensitive undertaking requiring patience, grace, diplomacy and respect.

Americans appreciate the constitutional right to worship freely and without judgment. It is clear to see that in New Orleans people take these rights quite seriously as they literally enjoy dancing to the beat of their own drums!

LinkedIn Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon

Also by Mary Lou Uttermohlen —


Structure Out Of Chaos

Mary Lou Uttermohlen

"So Mote It Be"

Mary Lou Uttermohlen

The First Climate Refugees

Mary Lou Uttermohlen

Movie - Structure out of Chaos

Mary Lou Uttermohlen

Structure Out Of Chaos: Shantytowns of America's Homeless

MaryLou Uttermohlen / New Orleans, La USA
Spiritual YaYa by MaryLou Uttermohlen
Join us
For more access