Press Release

McEvoy Arts’ Spring Exhibition Rituals of Devotion Assembles Artworks That Honor Acts of Spirituality and Earthly Love

Mary Carlson, St Catherine Reading (after Campin), 2020

San Francisco, CA. February 14, 2023 – McEvoy Foundation for the Arts announces the short film program and feature-length film screenings for Rituals of Devotion (March 10–May 27, 2023), its spring exhibition about the power of ritual to connect us to spiritual and otherworldly realms. Examples from the McEvoy Family Collection are joined by artworks in a range of mediums to construct a playful environment for thoughtful contemplation of the unknown. Rituals of Devotion is accompanied by We Begin Again, an original program of short films that screens daily in the McEvoy Arts’ Screening Room. Special screenings of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and the gospel documentary Say Amen, Somebody expand on the gallery exhibition’s spirited themes.

Rituals of Devotion

Organized from the McEvoy Family Collection and other contributions, Rituals of Devotion considers the many ways that artworks can be sites of ritual, connecting us to spiritual, otherworldly, and earthly realms. Performing as stand-ins for dreams, desires, or enlightenment, the assembled works are touchstones that trigger the imagination and produce connection to histories, cultures, and the unknown. Examples include works that draw inspiration from a variety of religious traditions and cultural belief systems, spiritual practices such as tarot, and imagined or extraterrestrial environments. The exhibition also explores more earthly considerations with its attention to human relationships that are reified and honored in portraiture.

“Rituals are most often intentional, affirming undertakings in a religious, spiritual, or social context, and they also develop organically in everyday life,” said Amanda Nudelman, McEvoy Arts exhibitions and public programs curator. “I’m interested in how returning to something again and again with purpose can be a transformative act that allows for deeper and more meaningful connection with the ideas, beliefs, and people that are important to us.”

Traditional religious imagery is used in numerous works to examine ritual in organized religion.Visions of and commentary on Christian traditions are seen in Edvard Munch’s Madonna (1895) and Mary Carlson’sdiminutive ceramic figures, with both examples upending and enlivening canonical visual narratives. Sahana Ramakrishnan’s Mother, Flower, Secret of the Flesh (2022) adapts elements of Indian miniature painting to reimagine Hinduism’s celebrated mother-son relationship between Yashoda and Krishna.

Alternative spiritual practices are seen in Mary Frey’s porcelain sculpture of a blood-red Kool-Aid Man, with a pentagram-emblazoned spoon, while Mamma Andersson’s striking and elusive painting The Song I Sang (2018) gestures to palmistry or a rite of anointment. Karla Knight and Suzanne Treister engage symbols of spirituality that are familiar in form, such as pictographs and tarot cards, and transform them to surface what often lies hidden.

Earthly ideas of devotion are expressed in Nan Goldin and Zanele Muholi’s chronicles of moments of tenderness between family, lovers, and friends. Dario Robleto traces a lineage of empathetic love in Melancholy Matters Because of You (2010), a sculpture that transforms his family’s shared fondness for vinyl records into a haunting intergenerational love letter cast in the form of skeletal hands. Sky Hopinka’s photographs of domestic and natural landscapes, bounded by text etched along their borders, create sites of exaltation and connection to the Heroka spirits who guide matters of life and death.

We Begin Again

We Begin Again is a program of short films that extends the gallery exhibition’s interest in the transformative power of loving relationships. The featured filmmakers weave past, present, and future together around a range of identity-affirming acts, engaging with archival materials and cataloguing enduring mythologies. The one-hour program screens each day in the McEvoy Arts Screening Room, at the top of the hour.

Partial list of films (in alphabetical order by filmmaker’s last name):

Bruce Conner, EASTER MORNING, 1966/2008
Cheryl Dunye, An Untitled Portrait, 1993
Zackary Drucker, At Least You Know You Exist, 2011 
Adrian Garcia Gomez, Mikveh, 2016
Kia LaBeija, Goodnight, Kia, 2017
Caroline Monnet, Mobilize, 2015
Alicia Smith, Teomama, 2018


Rituals of Devotion includes screenings of two feature-length films that explore and celebrate the realm of the spirit. Say Amen, Somebody (1982), a joyous American music documentary about some of the most prominent figures in the gospel world, and Spirited Away (2001), a beloved masterpiece of Japanese animation, present rousing transitions from the earthly plane to spaces beyond.

Spirited Away
Wednesday, April 12, 6:45pm
Roxie Theater– 3117 16th Street, San Francisco
Tickets: $9–$14 (

Hayao Miyazaki’s acclaimed masterpiece highlights the exhibition’s themes of transformation through labors of love. Wandering through an abandoned carnival site, 10-year-old Chichiro is separated from her parents and stumbles into a dreamlike spirit world, where she is put to work in a bathhouse for the gods. The film traverses the thin veil between earthly and spirit worlds in a deeply imaginative exploration of the power of courage and friendship in the face of the unknown.

Say Amen, Somebody
Wednesday, May 17, 7pm
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts – 1150 25th Street, Building B, San Francisco
Tickets: $7–$10 (

One of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time is a joyous, funny, and deeply emotional ode to gospel music. Featuring the father of gospel, Thomas A. Dorsey; its matron, Willie Mae Ford Smith; and earth-shaking performances by the Barrett Sisters and the O’Neal Twins, Say Amen, Somebody extends the exhibition’s themes of faith, loving communal gatherings, and intergenerational mentorship. 

Rituals of Devotion is curated by Amanda Nudelman, McEvoy Arts exhibitions and public program curator. We Begin Again is curated by Amanda Nudelman and Dylan Sherman, McEvoy Arts communications coordinator and curatorial assistant.

Special thanks to the Roxie Theater, co-presenter of Spirited Away.


McEvoy Foundation for the Arts presents exhibitions and events that engage, expand, and challenge themes present in the McEvoy Family Collection. Established in 2017, McEvoy Arts creates an open, intimate, and welcoming place for private contemplation and public discussion about art and culture. Rooted in the creative legacies of the San Francisco Bay Area, McEvoy Arts embodies a far-reaching vision of the McEvoy Family Collection’s potential to facilitate and engage conversations on the practice of contemporary art. McEvoy Arts invites artists, curators, and thinkers with varied perspectives to respond to the Collection. Each year, these collaborations produce exhibitions in the McEvoy Arts gallery, film screenings and exhibitions, as well as music, literary, and performing arts events each year.

McEvoy Foundation for the Arts is located at 1150 25th Street, Building B, San Francisco, CA 94107 and is open to the public Wednesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information, visit