My current endeavor is a monumental portrait project celebrating the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as Contemporary Icons in honor of their 40th Anniversary. The Sisters, as masters of uplifting, engaging public service, and Dragtivism, epitomize using humor and compassion to affect real change in the world. They skew the heteronormative perspective with lighthearted joy, gleeful explorations of gender fluidity and identity, and enormous generosity of spirit.
I attended all girls Catholic Convent school for 11 years, and the Sisters opened my eyes to an entirely new way to respond to the rigors of my upbringing.
I first saw the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at an Easter show in Dolores Park in 2000 . Hunky Jesus hit every button: irreverence, high camp, brilliant satire, outrageous pageantry, and the shunning of convention. Their existence solidified San Francisco as the place where everyone could freely express themselves, in any way they chose moved to do so. The Sisters represented, to me, the ultimate activist platform. They balance the sacred and profane with such edge, and humor; I continue to be awed.
I view this body of work as connected to the Royally appointed Court painters of the history; I am immortalizing Contemporary Royalty. The pomp and grandeur of Imperial Portraiture is reflected in the presentation: each exalted subject is larger than life (7-9 ft), exquisitely rendered, elaborately bedecked, and highly flattered. The scale and luminosity of the resin covered oil paintings recall stained glass church windows and iconic, grandiose saints.
I work with each Sister personally on how our ultimate vision for the piece will manifest, and what we will convey. Every painting incorporates personal artifacts from the subject: jewelry, fabric, momentos, even hair. In this way, they echo reliquaries, with hallowed artifacts enshrined in resin.
I have begun to see the parallel between the process of “getting into face” or “manifesting” with my execution of these pieces. Both are created slowly and carefully, with layers of paint and ceremonial embellishment; each combines elements of symbolism with sacred objects, ritual placement, and becomes a meditative transformational ceremony, which is, at the same time, both personal and public. These works honor the odyssey of “becoming”, and the journey each metamorphosis represents.