The Queer Spirit Podcast

Episode 4:
The Art & Practice of Queer Altars
with Michael Espinoza


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Michael Espinoza (they/them or he/him) is an Artist living and working in Portland, OR. Portland is located on the ancestral lands of the Multnomah, Clakamas, Kathamet, Tualitan and the many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia river. The major themes in their work include queer identity, Mexican heritage, family, ancestry, healing and recovery, sex and the body. Recent work has included a durational live performance on the streets of Portland, site-specific gallery installation, in-studio bricolage, and a series of installations by the sea in Jalisco, Mexico. They regularly collaborate with academics, performance artists, visual artists, drag queens and dancers. Currently they are creating a project tentatively titled The Archive of Absence which aims to create a large conceptual space to fill with the artworks which would have been created by an entire generation of queer ancestors lost to AIDS. Please contact them immediately if you fund a grant or residency that could support this type of work.

Episode Highlights

  • Michael shares that they first started making altars after receiving their grandmothers statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe when she died.
  • They share about the influence of growing up Catholic onto their altar practice.
  • We talk about the various purposes and functions of altars both in art and in spiritual practice, as a kind of portal.
  • Michael talks about the elements they use in their works, and the symbolic meanings they provide in a piece.
  • We discuss ideas about reclaiming queer ancestry and honoring them through altar practices. They share about a public performance piece honoring queer ancestors.
  • They share about the similarities and differences between having an art practice and a spiritual practice. 


Web links


Queer Burials, performance video



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