In all likelihood it will be 3000+ AD before we can realistically even hope to see a first female Pope in the Vatican.  Well artist Jackie Hoysted didn’t like that much.  In fact, she doesn’t like it at all.  So she set about creating a participatory performance art project intended to draw attention to the unequal status of women in the Catholic Church.

The project is a traveling trunk show of Papal regalia and props. The public are invited to dress up as Pope and thoughtfully or playfully pose in a papal like gilded throne. Participants don their favorite Papal outfit from a display of clothing comprising an array of Pope’s cassocks, stockings, female shoes, hats and stoles in Papal colors, white and red.

The attire is laid out, retail style, according to varying sizes, just as they are for a newly elected Pope in the Room of Tears at the Vatican.  Participants can then pose as Pope and have their photograph uploaded to social media sites and a dedicated website.

Anyone can participate – it is an equal opportunity event. The conceptual basis of the project is to use portraiture as a tool for self-visualization and social activism in a fun and lighthearted fashion. (See images below.)

But that’s not quite what happened.  After initial website issues, when Jackie started posing her female Popes, suddenly men wanted to participate too.  And this expansion then added complex gender and sexuality issues into the mix, which Jackie embraced skillfully.  She started playing with double-meaning naming conventions as titles to the photographic works.  One particularly dandy fellow who is looking quite bored in his shot is titled, Pope Impiousina Transgeneria I.  Hillyer Art Space, located at 9 Hillyer Court, NW, in Washington DC agreed to host the installation in October 2016 and then Jackie had to set about coordinating multiple appointments from those seeking Pope portraiture.  It was a lot of work with a short turnaround and a fantastic, multi-dimensioned result.  The DC art world is actually fairly close-knit and fortunately, it didn’t take long for word to spread.

Jackie’s originally from Ireland.  She came to the US in 1996, became a citizen of the US in 2008, and has long been interested in feminism and equality.  Much of her artwork centers on themes of personal identity.  The Vote-4-Pope project is her first real venture into the murky world of political art, particularly politics and religion.  She’s a brave lass.

Same holds true back from the time when I first interviewed her in 2007 for her psychology of smoking and quitting project, which I’ve recopied below.  And then we met up again, once for a competition I was jurying, and then a couple of times after at various art parties when we both were traveling the DC art circuit.  Jackie’s the kind of person you like straight away.  She’s no-nonsense, talk straight, be real from here to the ends of the earth.

And I believe she means business.  When the Pope said women would NEVER reach that glass ceiling in late 2016, during the same year that Jackie’s Presidential candidate didn’t quite win, I think Jackie died a little. She does not mean to be irreverent.  Okay, maybe a little.  Her artist statement reads,

Jackie Hoysted is a multi-media artist who creates traditional objects of art with the objective of revealing or highlighting conflicting or opposing notions on issues that are personal to her: identity, feminism, economy, religion and health. She is particularly interested in creating projects that investigate portraiture and that invite public participation.

In reviewing another of Hoysted’s series “Girls! Nice Doesn’t Cut It,” Mark Jenkins wrote,

 “The poses in Jackie Hoysted’s acrylic paintings, at Gallery 555dc, come from fashion shows and magazines; two of the subjects are models on a runway. But the catwalkers are called Vashti and Medb, after mythic monarchs: the banished Persian queen from the biblical book of Esther, and the queen who sparked war between Connaught and Ulster in Irish mythology…There’s plenty to see here for those who aren’t scared off by the first smoldering glance.”

There’s much hope and promise for Jackie, both as a woman and as an artist communicator, neither identity she can willfully shake.  

#Vote4Pope Pope Kathryn i



The Last Cigarette

Jackie Hoysted is a Maryland artist exploring the psychology of smoking and quitting. She smoked for over 20 years and has been smoke-free since July 9, 2007. Her blog Ashes to Ashes posts her smoking related art and writings on how her “quit” is going.

In an effort to chronicle her journey, Hoysted began an art project designed to enlist others in the shared experience of “the last cigarette.” She sent a call to the public. Smokers could participate in the project by mailing their Last Cigarettes along with their plan to quit. She hoped to immortalize the effort in a work of art.

For example, Jackie recently completed an image entitled Destruction. It is a collage of burnt watercolor paper soaked in cigarette butts and sprayed with nicotine “dye” (i.e. cigarette butts soaked in water over a few weeks). She had planned to continue in this vein for a while – as she found it both therapeutic and disgusting. Jackie is currently exhibiting at: 9×10 WPA/C Member Show, William Parker Gallery, DC, Aug 17 – Sep 15; and DCAC Wall Mountables, Washington DC., July – Sept. 2007.

What happened though, was that Hoysted found it very difficult to get “last cigarettes” because smokers find it too hard to part with them even when they have made the commitment to stop smoking. She’s resigned herself to the probability that it would be easier to get cigarettes of people who are not trying to stop.

Hoysted’s exhibits earlier this year included: Delaplaine Arts Center, Frederick, Regional juried show, June 2-July 22; Glenview Mansion, Rockville Art League juried show, May 6-28, 2007; Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington DC., May 9-27, 2007; Artomatic 2007, 2121 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA April – May 20; and a solo show, Gaithersburg City Hall, MD, juried. Feb/Mar – 2007.

If you can’t part with your pack, send a postcard or photos with your thoughts/story on smoking; Jackie will endeavor to include them all in a handmade book. For details go to: http://jackiehoysted.com/ashestoashes/archives/category/artproject/.

the art evangelist is a full service liturgical art advisory exploring the intersections of art, nature and faith in sacred spaces and public places.  How can we help you grow today?  941.875.5190


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