Danielle deo Owensby

In Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante travels through hell, purgatory, and eventually into a heaven of his own construction, unscathed, but wiser at the end of his journey.

I’ve been drawn to Dante’s vivid descriptions of eternal damnation ever since I first read the poem as an English Literature student. Growing up in an extremist church, I experienced a constant struggle between my authentic self and the beliefs imposed upon me, and have often pondered the existence of the afterlife and have feared for my own damnation.

Using Dante's words as a road map, I am reimagining The Divine Comedy and applying it to my own journey as a previously closeted queer person trying to navigate this life and shake off the indoctrination of my childhood and adolescence. Through this work, I aim to explore the complexities of my identity and the transformative power of embracing my true self.

From the darkness of the Inferno to the illuminated beauty of Paradisio, Dante's work mirrors my own journey and the complexity of the human experience. I use Dante's poetry as a framework to explore the themes of identity, self-discovery, and transformation. Each image represents a moment of self-discovery, a symbolic step towards liberation.

Using constructed imagery as a vehicle for allegories and a mix of literal interpretations from Dante's text and my own fantastical visions, I am pondering a few questions: What would my journey look like? What are the punishments for my sins, especially as a queer, purity-culture dropout? And, most importantly, how do I break these punishments down and banish them from my psyche and celebrate who I have become?

This is a WIP, check back periodically for updates. 

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