Sacred Order of Eternal Wounds

Strand Gallery, 2021
Galveston, Texas

Heyd Fontenot’s exhibition, Sacred Order of Eternal Wounds, delves into the myth of American identity to explore the politicized topics of gender, sexuality, queer identity, and what the artist calls “the false-promise of comfort-in-conformity.” Fontenot is well-known for his stylized and delicate nude portraits. This exhibition debuts new visual experiments in figuration, illustration, and decoration in a series of mural-scaled paintings. Blurring the lines between art gallery and theatrical prompt, this immersive installation transforms GAC’s main gallery into a space reminiscent of a secret fraternal order’s ceremonial chamber. This environment draws on the artist’s background in film and set design and is populated by images of contemporary figures, archetypal characters from mythology, and a codex of symbols and patterns. Fontenot’s work navigates perceptions of the human body as a political site that is conflicted by religious and political institutions, mass media, consumption, and social norms. This “sacred order” celebrates queer space in the face of nonstop social outrage motivating a newfound public dialogue and a growing awareness that tradition and nostalgia are oppressive forces.

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