Thomas Arthur Schaefer

Monday, September 25, 2023

STATEMENT - Dominus Obsequious Sororium

'Dominus Obsequious Sororium' is a sculptural work that navigates the complex terrain between classical art and the harsh realities of the modern world. Drawing inspiration from traditional still life paintings that exalt the beauty of nature's bounty, this sculpture reinterprets the quintessential fruit arrangement in a chillingly evocative manner. The serenity of the fruit basket is juxtaposed with the haunting memory of the NXIVM cult's branding rituals. In its form, the sculpture embodies the tension between the timeless allure of classical art and the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic scenes, urging viewers to confront the uncomfortable truths of our contemporary society. 

This artwork delves into the complex interplay of power, manipulation, and the enduring strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Informed by a chilling chapter in recent history, this artwork draws inspiration from the NXIVM cult, a notorious organization led by Keith Raniere, who exploited his followers and left an indelible mark on their lives. 

The NXIVM cult, under Raniere's leadership, painted a veneer of self-empowerment yet concealed a dark underbelly of coercion, manipulation, and the exploitation of women. It is a harrowing example of how individuals can be ensnared in the web of deception, often unaware of the true intentions lurking beneath the surface. 

In the heart of this narrative lies Dr. Danielle Roberts, who willingly participated in branding her fellow female followers, branding that symbolized a twisted form of trust and empowerment within the cult. As she sees them, her actions highlight the disturbing influence that charismatic leaders can wield over their followers, blurring the lines between consent and coercion. 

The NXIVM saga also serves as a stark reminder of the perils of pyramid schemes and the devastating consequences they can have on people's lives. The cult operated like a pyramid, with members ensnared in its intricate web, often trapped by a web of secrecy, fear, and manipulation.

Moreover, this chilling account underscores the pervasive and deeply troubling issue of the mistreatment and sexualization of women. Women within the cult were subjected to rituals that violated their autonomy and dignity, an egregious act that stands as a testament to the urgent need for gender equality and the eradication of such unacceptable practices.

Through this work, I hope to ignite conversations about the dangers of blind devotion, the importance of safeguarding against manipulation, and the imperative of creating a world where all individuals, regardless of gender, are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Ultimately, this art serves as a poignant reminder that even in the darkest corners of human existence, unwavering resilience can triumph over the shadows of manipulation and control.

— Thomas Arthur Schaefer (2023)