A Series of Cleansing Rituals is a reworking of The More Lavish the Decoration, The More It Followed a Script About Power. As a result, of a series of personal changes in my life, I began to practice ancestral worship, in the form of an ancestor altar, and I began to explore the practice of cleansing rituals. While The More Lavish the Decoration, The More It Followed a Script About Power was an artwork I was creatively fulfilled by, I decided I needed to go back and revisit the artwork. For the framing of this new artwork, I repurposed the 2 x 4’s I used in the wooden box or casket I made for The More Lavish the Decoration, The More It Followed a Script About Power. In previous months, I had already been exploring using salt in my sculpture and installation. The use of salt in purification rituals is prolific across a multitude of cultures. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the use of salt in some rites may be based on the fact that salt has drawing or draining properties.” I used a total of 760 pounds of salt crystals in the two sculptures I created for A Series of Cleansing Rituals.
The plaster crown moldings I created in The More Lavish the Decoration, The More It Followed a Script About Power also went through an improvised purification ritual. During the winter of 2020, I ritualistically used a propane torch, to burn the individual plaster crown moldings I would later use in A Series of Cleansing Rituals. Plaster or Gypsum also has a unique material quality, as it’s a non-flammable material. The smoky grey ash and cracks that form on the surface of the plaster crown moldings were indicative of the transformation they went through. In this version, the surface treatment of the crown moldings is used to communicate the purification ritual they underwent. In a way, I was attempting to burn out its colonialist identity and its association with white European socio- economic hierarchies – in other words, the erasure of its inherent whiteness. The contradiction here lies in the fact that I am unable to burn out this identity and inherent associations, because of plaster’s inherent non-flammable characteristic. But through a series of cleansing rituals, I am ritualistically accomplishing this goal. The different surface treatments I apply to my sculptures also speak to the differences between what’s visible and invisible or beneath the surface. It’s a material decision that draws its power from the conceptual investigations that are consistent across most of my artworks.