Martyrs of Our Time

In the summer of 2006, I studied religious iconography and architecture in Minas Gerais, Brazil. One of my favorite things I learned about were oratories, or small personal altars you might find in a home where families pray to a specific saint. There were many versions of Oratorios, and I was drawn to the variations based on wealth or class, and especially to any that demonstrated a syncretic approach to faith that might combine African Candomblé rituals with Catholic formal elements.

This series was my first foray into making Oratorio using wooden match boxes native to Brasil. These are common to come by there, but hard to attain where I’m from, and it still blows my mind that they’re actual wood. By adapting the matchbox wooden shell, and cardboard, I created a series of altars to contemporary martyrs, regardless of nationality, or what side of a war that they might represent. Each alcov houses a tiny etching smaller than 1×1″, some with gilded frames. Collectively, you will find portraits of dictators, innocent bystanders, child soldiers, politicians, mothers, children, and various individuals called terrorist around the world. The questions I was asking was who is a victim, who is a victor, who is an enemy, and who is a hero?