A Shrine to the Forgotten
Through an Artist Research Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library I am reimagining the magic and rituals outlined in an 16th Century Book of Magic, Manuscript Vb.26, The Book of Magic with instructions for invoking spirtis,etc, while considering needs and beliefs of LGBTQ people today. Magic and LGBTQ activism both employ imagination and action to bring about change and attention to the unseen and invisible. LGBTQ people have always used secret-codes and magic to survive and exist.
To this day there are 14 pages missing from Manuscript Vb.26. I am curious about where those pages are and why they were missing. In this exhibition, I imagine them found in a box that may have been stored in the Torpedo Factory when it was being used as a storage facility for the FBI and Smithsonian Institute before it was turned into an artist space. The missing pages are presented as torn fragments of pages, scattered throughout the exhibition.
This site-specific installation in the Target Gallery consists of large textile prints, artist books and sculptural works that explore hidden and erased stories, witch-hunts, book-bans and don’t say gay bills. Images from Manuscript Vb.26 and my own ritual practice are collaged with images sourced from the National Archives of the Torpedo Factory when it was used as a Federal Records Center shortly after WW2, along with witch hunting documents and an archive of vintage gay pornography that was discovered by a neighbor in a box of an old antique shop in Baltimore.
This body of work is created using light and shadow to present works that explore hidden often erased stories. The prints on textiles, which I call Queer Shrouds, are made using cyanotype chemicals and solar fast dyes. I store them Leather books called Queer Shroud Grimoires, and install them on walls in grids called Queer Shroud Grids. The chlorophyll prints (prints on leaves) use sunlight, shadow, and the chlorophyll in the plant to print images on the surface of the leaves. The large textiles, dried lavender, and other organic materials create a shrine-like environment to hold people in the space. Small intimate objects allow people a quieter sense of discovery and storytelling. The Smaller books, are used for bibliomancy, a form of divination that involves randomly selecting a page from a book to extract meaning and guidance. I encourage people to lead with emotional curiosity when viewing this exhibition, because I truly believe that connection to our own feelings and senses is crucial in understanding the collective needs of others.
In this current moment, a moral panic where misinformation and fear of the other informs a grotesque and divisive political landscape, it is important know that LGBTQ+ people are omnipresent throughout history and will always exist. This show proudly celebrates magic, queerness and the power of the hidden and mysterious. A Shrine to the Forgotten is a spell of remembrance.
This exhibition contains material sourced from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, The Torpedo Factory Art Center’s National Archives, and a performance with Siren Arts and Transformer DC in Ashbury Park, New Jersey.