One photographer’s visit to Holy Land, USA


Victoria BresnahanGeneral Assignment Reporter

Sam Pansa, said she likes to find the ‘unconventional’ in her landscape shots—one of her most recent featured the massive cross from the now closed amusement park, Holy Land USA, in Waterbury.

“It’s a weird little place, but it is also kind of fun,” said Pansa, sophomore art major concentrating in photography. “It has this sort of vibe that it shouldn’t be there, but it is.”

The cross, which can be seen from I-84 when traveling towards Waterbury, was once able to light up. With the park’s closure in 1984, all the structures—including a village created to represent biblical locations—were left behind.

Holy Land USA, Waterbury Conn., (Sam Pansa).

“It is kind of off limits to people, but people go in anyways,” said Pansa, sophomore art major concentrating in photography, “It’s a good place to go take pictures.”

Pansa’s first trip to the abandoned park was this past Christmas break. The day she visited, Pansa said it was beautiful outside and the sun was radiating right onto the cross.

“There are no trees around, so it is just the sun and then the clouds—it was a perfect day,” said Pansa.

The shot left Pansa feeling unsettled because it is something people would assume to see in the south rather than here in Connecticut, she said.

“It’s just right up the road, and you’re like What? What is this here for?’” she said. “I think at the same time it is also like, what is the story behind all of this? As a third person viewer, why is there a cross?”

She said she herself is an unconventional person, so she is not sure what she hopes viewers will feel when viewing the photo—which she edited in about ten minutes by adding a black and white filter to it.

“I think people would see it and interpret it the way they want to interpret it, you know?” said Pansa. “If they are religious, [they could] look at the cross and be like ‘That’s a cross I can connect to that’ or if they just like the art then just ‘I like that for the way it is.’”

Her photography primarily concentrates on landscapes that feature a unique or ‘off’ quality about it. Pansa, who is new to photography, she said these types of photos make the viewer think.

“If it is like an alleyway or something and I have a picture of just a green chair,” said Pansa, “and it is just a completely dark alleyway—I like that. Because it is a landscape, but it also just a little bit ugly.”

At Southern, Pansa said she took photography and a photojournalism course which resulted in her viewing potential shots more as a photojournalist than artist. While this can be frustrating, Pansa she therefore she enjoys taking unusual shots.

Sam Pansa, sophomore art major concentrating in photography. Earl Hall, New Haven, Conn., March 21, 2018 (August Pelliccio).

“I try to find the backstory to it,” said Pansa.

Pansa’s mother is an abstract which she said led to her enjoying more of the unique shot.

“I kind of grew up around this whole feeling of go outside of the box and do what is different,” said Pansa. “When I do take the camera, or any other art form, I do like to make it as different as I can make it, while also making it look good.”

Photo Courtesy: Sam Pansa

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