THE PAINTINGS INSIDE OUR BODIES
Anne Magratten (1986, United States)
At the start of this residency I began my work by visiting Catholic churches and making sketches amidst the praying, singing, incense and supplication. This body of paintings is an attempt to reconcile queerness and spirituality. I was raised Catholic and was inevita- bly estranged from the church because of my sexuality. It was fruitful to reexamine these spiritual spaces as an artist, thinker, and queer body. Despite many changes within my life, I remain invested in the connections between architecture, embodiment, spirituality and social change.
Belief, for example, acts as an essential component of change. The first germination of any change requires we believe in a new reality, one we have yet to experience. It requires propositions, fictions, hopes, and visions. These paintings draw from that generative space and also a definition of queerness that is fluid, contradictory, and unmoored from the grav- ity of shame and homophobia.
I tried to approach each sanctuary with a concerted openness, giving equal attention to observations, memories, and the feelings they evoked. Parroquia de San Jacinto had a special resonance for me. The exterior garden is so ample and verdant. The gentleness of the foliage and resulting shade became a place of artistic possibility for me. I was struck by the use of local volcanic rock in the architecture, its relationship to a foregone time/space, which resulted in the warm hues of the church exterior. It was the formality of these obser- vations that allowed me to see an abandoned lot on Calle San Marcos with the tenderness and reverence of well cared for sanctuaries. No matter how old, how well kept or neglected, there is the inevitability of transformation.
Upon visiting Capilla del Pocito (located beside the Basílica de Guadalupe) I peered for a long time into the dramatic rupture between the chapel and the surrounding grounds. Here, change seemed violent, despite being the incremental result of environmental instabilities. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness between the torn grounds, I found many little plants growing in this broken space, reaching up toward the sun. What does it mean to grow in the shade of a church? This is a question any LGBTQIA + person will answer differently.