Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins

Location: Atlanta, GA
Website: drralphbasuiwatkins.org

The Night Jesus Didnt Save

Describe your featured work:

WERD Radio & Ricci de Forest: The History of Sweet Auburn Avenue

This image was taken on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. This is the street that represents the historical center for the African American community in Atlanta. The street and history of African Americans is under assault as the new streetcar invites the erasure of history. This image captures the tension of the moment. The church sits in the back unable to save us from this disruption of historical gentrification. The light is on and yet off as we walk through the frame in poverty uncertain of our collective future. A people without a history are lost. They experience amnesia and this image capture the fullness of our struggle as African Americans in Atlanta fight to remember!

Visit the links below to view more of Dr. Watkins’ videos about the historic Auburn Avenue.

Artist’s Statement:

My work is rooted in the Afrocentric context in that I claim my roots as an African American artist whose African ancestry speaks through my work as aesthetics of liberation. The ancestors are a part of my work. My work is firmly lodged in challenging all forms of oppression with a clear call for freedom and justice for the marginalized in our world.

An Artist Rendering, 2016, 11 x 14, archival ink jet print
Dobbs Looks at Sweet Auburn, 2016, 11 x 14, archival ink jet print
Here Come the Police, 2016 ,11 x 14, archival ink jet print

Sista Pray, 2016, 11 x 14, archival ink jet print

What are you making now?

I am working on trans-media body of work: Seeing the Future of the African American Church in the Rainbow. This body of work follows inclusive African American churches and their members via a four part documentary project and documentary photography. The work is a visual invitation for the African American Church to have a courageous conversation around a theology human sexuality and radical inclusivity.

I belong to CIVA because…

Faith and creativity are explicitly linked. With CIVA my faith and creativity come together via an organization that gets it and gets me as a creative person of faith.


Ralph Watkins is the Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Seminary. His work focuses on building bridges between young adults and the church in order to develop future leaders for the twenty-first century church who work for justice. As a scholar, professional photographer, documentarian, pastor, sought after speaker and workshop leader Dr. Watkins seeks to help the churches live into the networked and visual world. He is known for being a leader in teaching with digital media via creative arts.

Instagram: @basui