“Rituals” takes on a crisis of faith that began in my life when I entered high school. The precipice of this was the extreme pressure I was put under by the purity culture of conservative Protestantism in the United States. Upon entering adulthood I struggled with shame around my sexuality, especially with my bisexuality. I found myself concealing my first romantic relationship with a woman from my family, gripped by fear at the prospect of openly holding her hand in public—an experience that resulted in lasting trauma for both of us.

I had long identified with the bible verse Luke 2:19; "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." A sensitive teenager, I had no idea how to reconcile the love I had formed for Jesus Christ as a child with the forbidden love that I felt for those around me. Many times I came close to giving up on my faith altogether. This project documents how I equivocated between extremes until I realized that my faith, sexuality, and overall identity are something that I can define for myself. I still believe in God, but in a God that I have a personal relationship with. I actively avoid hateful Christian congregations centered on controlling the choices of others and have completely refined what a religious ritual looks like for me. Self-portraiture, a ritual in itself, played a transformative role, rescuing me from despair and aiding in the rediscovery of faith.

In "Rituals," the exploration of questioning the Christian faith is brought to life through the deliberate use of techniques such as photo montage and theatrical staging. With overtones reminiscent of childhood play, the series becomes a visual and symbolic playground for deconstructing and reinterpreting complex religious narratives. Each image in "Rituals" experiments with dark humor and a guise of bright colors to question established religious symbols and rituals. The irony of this approach is that my religious education began in childhood, and Christian beliefs were often taught to me through gamified forms. My photographic techniques are thus purposefully employed to mirror the freedom and imaginative exploration inherent in childhood play, creating a space where traditional narratives are deconstructed and reconstructed to reflect my journey of doubt. The series invites viewers to engage in the exploration of dualities within religious beliefs, prompting a reconsideration of norms and an embrace of alternative perspectives.