Relics (resin and hair sculptures)

Rein Brooks

Ambrosia and viatica

Clerestory close

Clerestory far

My work is about the ways in which our bodies, interior lives, and personal narratives are inexorable from our culture and history. I make relics, icons, and altarpieces for a fictional religion that sanctifies the physical experiences of transness and disability. I want to create objects that are at once holy and blasphemous, beautiful and repulsive, familiar and other. I am deeply influenced by meditational and ritual items from Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism, particularly relics. I want to replicate the process of carefully preserving a seemingly crude human by-product, like St. Clare’s blond curls, then crafting surroundings that distill its spiritual significance into the material world. Hair holds a deep but ephemeral significance in the spheres of gender, disability, white supremacy, and theology. I work with hair because I’m interested in the way its symbolic meaning oscillates between vitality and decay depending on its context. I also use transparent, pressure-cast epoxy in my sculptures, because its practical use in preserving soft tissue samples and its resemblance to edible gelatin lend it a proximity to flesh. I want these media to help me tell stories relating to my own role in the cultural hegemony and create environments that help audiences interrogate the connections between our intimate personal experiences and larger cultural constructs.



Rein Brooks is from Minneapolis, he lives in Chicago, and you can find him @the_real_rat_king on Instagram

© Variant Literature Inc 2023