Amanda Maccagnan “John Waters: Pope of Trash” @ the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles

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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles // September 17, 2023 – August 04, 2024

Deftly navigating the line between traditional techniques and modern influences, Queer multidisciplinary artist Amanda Maccagnan pays tribute to John Waters in an abstracted church setting filled with homages to the iconic director and his movies in John Waters: Pope of Trash at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Retained by the Academy Museum, Maccagnan unveils her newest stained-glass pieces, deeply rooted in Waters’s influence and legacy, in her US debut. Maccagnan’s stained glass portrait work is a monumental fusion of old-world techniques and her distinct style, epitomizing both tradition and innovation.

Maccagnan’s breathtaking stained glass, located in the exhibition’s entry gallery, is emblematic of her unwavering commitment to the art form, breathing new life into age-old methods. This project combines traditional gothic influences with the subversive energy of John Waters’s iconic characters. With six 2ft x 5ft pieces, the Academy Museum brought on Maccagnan to immortalize some of the legendary stars of Waters’s movies in stained glass. With a painting of the visionary himself as the “Pope of Trash,” a term coined by William S. Burroughs, Maccagnan’s works complement the immersive experience.

Crafted using authentic old-world processes and materials, Maccagnan’s pieces are a dance of deconstruction and reconstruction. From cutting colored glass and reverse stippling to multiple firings that breathe life into each layer, her stained glass paintings are the culmination of meticulous hours of dedication and craftsmanship. With a clear beat on the state of our world today, Maccagnan recognizes the powerful opportunity John Waters: Pope of Trash presents, as a Queer artist celebrating a man like Waters, who is unyielding in his authenticity.

Maccagnan’s dedication to preserving the rawness of her subjects echoes the ethos of Waters’s artistry. Each representation is both beautiful and accurate, refusing to retouch or filter their opinions. The works honor real people, from the iconic drag queens to the trailblazers who dared to step into the spotlight.

A lifelong fan of Waters, Maccagnan hopes her pieces inspire visitors to embrace their own audacious spirit, saying “I hope that what people take away from my work is a sense of their own audacity.”

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