NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stone Fort Museum at Stephen F. Austin State University will host an opening reception for the exhibit "Sacred Spaces: Connecting with the Land" from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

The "Sacred Spaces" photography project explores the spiritual connection to the environment and landscape within the Nacogdoches area. The exhibit utilizes descriptions of the East Texas landscape dating back to the late 1600s, as well as from contemporary journals.

This project examines the relationship between individuals and their natural, social and built environments, all of which were interpreted through their faith. According to Dr. Kelley Snowden, Center for Regional Heritage Research assistant, understanding how individuals interpret their surroundings through faith will provide a better assessment of how landscape features should be preserved to enhance public spaces for an increase in community well-being, she said.

"We reached out to the community and any interested individuals for this project," Snowden said. "We were successful in recruiting 36 volunteers from seven different churches, representing five different Christian denominations."

Volunteers for the photovoice pilot project were issued a camera and journal. More than 300 images of natural, public and private landscapes were captured and will be on display. The completed project reveals that the past and the present confirm an ongoing connection to, and interaction with, the environment, Snowden said.

Snowden said she hopes to expand this project in the future to include a variety of different religions, as well as increase geographic diversity. "I enjoyed this project and want to continue to expand because it is truly a labor of love for me."

While touring the museum, spectators may also view an artifact recently added to the Stone House exhibit. The sword of Captain Ira Link Sturdevant will be on display, along with research on the Stone Fort Rifles and the Texas Volunteer Guard as documented by Dr. Tom McKinney, instructional specialist in distance learning at Angelina College.

The exhibit will run through Saturday, March 8, 2014. For more information or museum hours, call (936) 468-2408, email or visit