Taking the Veil: A Ritual in Black and White

By Bryttany Gerlisky on October 12, 2013

As a generation rot by divorce, it is easy easy to have doubts in marriage. What does marriage mean to me? Joint bank accounts, insurance benefits, religious passage and children. When I was younger the answer would have been, 'love”. Well, why shouldn't it still mean love? Despite the failures of marriage across the country and the denial of people's rights, legally, to this right of passage- why can't we make marriage about respect, love and commitment again? On October 4, 2013 in 621 Art Annex at Railroad Square, Florida State University's own Art Nuns are bringing the compassion of marriage back: by marrying themselves.

Lindsey Monteiro and other Art Nuns donned face paint for the rituals

Photo by Author

 The Art Nuns, a group of FSU art students, opened their performance piece with individual ceremonies for each of the Nuns. Each one recited their vows towards the audience and then turned around to look at themselves in the alter made of mirrors to seal the commitment with a kiss. After each left their lipstick marks on the mirror they walked over to the wall to the audiences left and hung up their vows, then they disappeared behind the alter, one by one, and emerged in black with their habits on. After the ceremony they walked around Rail Road Square and returned to 621's annex and opened up the chapel for the audience to take the ultimate commitment to themselves.

The Art Nuns did more than perform a deep, self aware, intimate piece, they created an atmosphere inside of the annex that swept up all who entered and transformed the space from an art piece to a memorable experience  for all. It is one thing to say the their unconventional way of “blessing” participants was  unlike any other and another to say that the ceremonies of audiences members connected viewers to artists, but the overall effect varied from person to person and left students with varying feelings. Some students, such as Carlos Kempff and Xatherine Gonzalez, became so captivated by the performance that they joined in and began to circle and bless people after their marriages as well. “I think it's necessary,” said Carlos, “a marriage of one's creative self to one's self.” And others were just happy to watch. Fellow FSU student Karson Kutz said, “The atmosphere was very encapsulating, very real. They created a real sense of community tonight.”

Photo by Author

It was a surreal adventure for the Nuns, too. After months of  collaborating with each other, as growing artists, and finding a vision to make uniquely their own, that accurately represents what they want the Art Nuns to be, they worked hours on hours to make their ideas come to life  and it all came and went in three hours. “We've been preparing since summer. There has been a lot of build up, a lot of anticipation, and we are very happy with the turn out. We are so happy people are taking it as seriously as it should be taken. It's very fulfilling to see this come together.” said Art Nun junior, Lindsey Monteiro. “Being apart of the Art Nuns has helped me become whole. It's helped me realize that there is a difference between spirituality and religion, and I'm open to the idea that two are not tied together.”

This performance was definitely one to remember, whether you joined in or simple watched. Needless to say, everyone is awaiting the next appearance of the Art Nuns.

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