Someone Save Temptation (Soft Ground Aquatint Etching)

11 January 2020

Someone Save Temptation,” Soft Ground Aquatint Etching, November 2018, by Laurel Hulme

  • The title comes from a line in the Iron and Wine song The Trapeze Swinger“The pearly gates have some eloquent graffiti, like ‘We’ll meet again’ and ‘Fuck the man’ and ‘Someone save temptation.'” (if you look closely, the last two are etched into the marionette handle backwards)

  • The piece was inspired by my personal experience of leaving the Mormon church.
  • The marionette handle represents the pearly gates and the cross: the way in which religion hangs over and controls the individual.

  • While the idea for a trapeze swinger was obviously inspired by the song, I also felt the need to make it more of a combination between a choice and a controlled choice. In other words, the swinger is controlled by the marionette handle, but you can see that half of him is still choosing to be there (legs). This represents the mental gymnastics that cult members have to perform to stay in the group (justifying the lack of answers and gaslighting from leadership, assuming anyone who leaves the group is wrong and unhappy despite evidence to the contrary, and denying literal science and history in order to keep believing).

  • The other legs are from another trapeze swinger/fallen angel. Maybe they fell together. Maybe they met along the way. Regardless, their shared trauma will create an instant bond when they meet.

  • I had been assigned the word “heat” in association with this project. Immediately I had started to picture Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. You can see feathers falling around him in the print. (Though, I decided to make this more symbolic and not draw entire wings on him)

  • At the bottom of the print is the Sun. Every time the swinger comes closer to this sun, his “wings” or “holiness” begin to melt, thus fraying the ties to religion. Rather than being a downfall, like it was for Icarus, it ends up saving him.

  • And the most important aspect of this fraying: the smell of burning feathers is the same as Ammonica spirits, or smelling salts which are used to revive someone who has fainted. As the feathers land on this “sun surface,” they produce the strong scent to wake up the trapeze swinger from his brainwashed state.

Finally, the real reason it is called “Someone Save Temptation” is that I believe many who leave religion are “saved by temptation.” The temptation to live a normal life, embrace a sexual orientation, believe the facts of science and history, or acknowledge and defect against disingenuity within the ranks of the group. The temptation to not be mind-controlled into our choices.

Inside the group is a tendency to judge people who have left, and to sling the words “sinner,” “apostate,” “heathen,” “lazy,” “disloyal,” “weak in faith,” “offended,” “dangerous,” or “ignorant” towards these individuals. A large majority of Exmormons (or ex-cult members in general) left, in fact, because they learned the history and discovered lies which make the group provably corrupt or false. But ultimately, there is no wrong reason to leave a cult.

One reason I created the piece “Someone Save Temptation” was to advocate for individuals who choose to leave high-demand groups in order to “sin” (live the life and morality which resonates with them). Personally I find it most rewarding to learn the history and know for certain that one’s group is false, in order to be more free of the mind control, guilt, shame, and “what ifs.” But I “thank God” (if I believed in one) for temptation, because it has helped so many leave their abusive relationship with religion. Sometimes it is only temptation which can make a person accept the possibility that they are brainwashed and not living in the real world. Temptation means questioning. Someone. Save. Temptation. Because it will save us.

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