From John Tamilio III’s article for Northshore Magazine:
This fall through March 2022, the Peabody Essex Museum will run the exhibit “The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming.” Museumgoers will learn more about factors that “fueled the storied crisis, including individuals who rose to defend those unjustly accused, and explore two creative responses by contemporary artists with ancestral links to the trials.” The exhibit includes thirteen photographs of contemporary witches from the series “Major Acana: Portraits of Witches in America” by Frances F. Denny, with fashions designed by Alexander McQueen, a descendant of Elizabeth Howe, one of the first victims of the 1692 hysteria. The PEM promises that Denny’s portraits “re-envision witchery by celebrating the spectrum of identities and spiritual practices found in today’s witch community.” Art often speaks truth to power, and this collection explicates how even the word “witch” was used to suppress women who did not conform to the Colonial ideal.
According to Lydia Gordon, associate curator at PEM, “There were no witches in 1692, but there are today. The modern witches featured in Major Arcana declare “witch” for themselves as tarot readers, spiritual healers, shamans, Wiccan High Priestesses, Neo-Pagans, occultists, mystics, herbalists, and activists. This exhibit diversifies preconceptions of witches and witchcraft today and celebrates the strength and self-empowerment of all those who subvert the marginalized witch identity in favor of a complex, diverse, and holistic state of being.”