Since I was a freshman, I have been a research assistant in the van Anders Social Neuroendocrinology Lab. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, Dr. van Anders sent out a draft of a paper to the lab for feedback. The paper was to become Sexual Configurations Theory (SCT). At the time, I was excited by her theory, but confused by the visual representations that existed within it. Two years later, the paper was published and I read it again. SCT is a way of looking at sexuality “beyond sexual orientation” as Dr. van Anders writes which calls sexuality researchers to rethink how they discuss and measure sexuality. One way in which SCT is exciting because it can be described visually through diagrams that allow researchers as well as individuals to describe diverse partnered sexualities and genders in a way that is all inclusive and does not imply judgement.
This year, I worked on a project interviewing LGBTQ and polyamorous people about their genders and sexualities using the SCT diagram, and I got to see first hand how people’s interactions with SCT filtered and even changed the way people thought about themselves, and changed the way I thought about the theory. This painting incorporates an image of a SCT diagram, rotated and used as a lens through which to see human figures. The diagram allows us to see what is already present in the figure in a different light, allowing certain features to become clearer, while others get obscured. The medium for this painting is oil paint, and it is on two panels, each 2.5ft x 6ft.