On March 16, President Donald Trump released his budget proposal for the fiscal year of 2018, which included plans to eliminate all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The news, though not quite a surprise, was a devastating blow for the countless Americans who cherish the necessity of creative expression and a vibrant cultural community.
New York-based artist Ventiko had already embarked upon her project “Phos Hilaron: From the Masses Rise the Saints” before Trump officially announced his agenda to slash the NEA and NEH. But Trump was certainly on the artist’s mind when she began to photograph beloved members of her creative community and frame them as patron saints.
“The thing that really inspired me was the election,” Ventiko told The Huffington Post. “This series was the result of wanting and needing to take action. I had to reclaim my power. I’ve been blessed to know so many talented people and this was my chance to actually exalt them.”
Ventiko enlisted 30 of her friends, collaborators and muses to serve as the subjects of her divine series. “I was brought up Jewish,” she explained, discussing her interest in religious imagery. “When I was younger, there wasn’t a lot of iconography in my moral teachings. I’ve always been drawn to the communication of morality through imagery and have played a lot with the subversion of symbolism.”
For the project, subject and artist collaborated to determine which “patron saint” the model would embody. The unorthodox roster of holy ones includes everything from “Patron Saint of Beauty” to “Patron Saint of Gender Fluidity” and “Patron Saint of Night Night.” The subjects donned full costumes and makeup to wholly personify each holy figure.
Far from the traditional cast of holy saints, Ventiko’s creative idols are individuals of all ages, genders, races and styles. The fantastical series captures all the…