My childhood consisted of a bible in my calloused hands and the idea of eternal sin festering in my heart. I knew from a young age that I differed from the rest of the children in my church, struggling to memorize verse upon verse. I believed in the same God as they did, but I was looked at differently because I led a different life than them, especially identifying in private as a bisexual woman and constantly questioned the knowledge I was given. As I matured, those differences evolved into a disconnect with my spirituality, leading some to believe I didn’t identify as Christian anymore. Although I still hold Christian beliefs, I have come to realize many religious teachings I endured over the years were very misguided.
Within this series, I focus on how my own spiritual experiences can be interpreted through metaphors. I incorporated religious Renaissance art into the series as a way to reflect on how I am personally conflicted yet fascinated in the historical narratives and philosophical views of religion. Using a blend of studio practices and a more fine art photographic approach, the series begins to work as a conversation on how everything around me can function as reminders not only of my spirituality, but others too. For example, how the food and drink I consume daily held a different value long ago or how my natural body is seen to be made in God’s image, yet it is a sin to be proud of it.
In this project, I have focused on how the colors I incorporate into my photographs demonstrate certain emotions I resonated with in the time of taking the image. I tend to use color temperature, such as warm and cool colors, in contrast with each other to create my own visual sense of not just harmony, but that same emotional disconnect I have felt with my spirituality most of my life. The quality of light and color that falls onto my subjects is also an important aspect of how “Metanoia” functions as a visual representation of the inner turmoil I feel in my soul. In some portions of the series, the colors feel more lighter and are usually paired with slightly more sinister concepts and undertones in relation to my mentality through this journey. I want the viewers to be asking questions in their mind about the meaning behind the work, just as I have been constantly questioning everything in existence.
The Greek word “metanoia” translates to the changing of one’s heart through penitent conversation or a spiritual journey, something I deeply relate to within this body of work. Even now, as I create these images, there is still a yearning as well as a fear embedded in me to connect myself back to the divine. I don’t know where this spiritual journey is leading to, but through my imagery I have been able to reflect back on the experiences and teaching moments it has provided me. I find inspiration in photographers such as Jennifer McClure and Ryan McGinley. Within McClure’s series called “Laws of Silence”, McClure intentionally uses symbolism to mimic the emotional state she is in during the moment of capturing the image, something that I value greatly in my own work. McGinley, on the other hand, demonstrates excellent use of color with his vibrant imagery of his friends feeling free in natural landscapes. McGinley’s work inspires me to be more conscious with color and how I can manipulate colors to set the mood and tone of my images.