Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers

Rainbow Serpent Presents: Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers

May 3 – July 28, 2024

Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers is a collection of 16 life-size glass statues of Black queer Kemetic deities by Marques Redd and Mikael Owunna, Pittsburgh-based co-founders of the Rainbow Serpent Collective.

Providing a modern take on Kemetic granodiorite statues, the busts were made through a lost wax casting process and affixed with headpieces fabricated with glass blowing and hot sculpting techniques.

The statues and the spiritual system that animates them are deeply woven into the collective’s larger explorations of African cosmologies, multimedia art, innovative healing protocols, and emerging technologies.

Rainbow Serpent Presents: Myth-Science fo the Gatekeepers by Marques Redd and Mikael Owunna

Every day from opening until 1:00pm the gallery will be fully lit so visitors can explore the sculptures in detail. From 1:00pm until closing, the lights will be dimmed and the immersive virtual reality film Blackstar Sanctuary will play repeatedly. Plan Your Visit

Please note that the exhibition includes moving projections, strobe-like flashing lights, and loud sounds.

artists' statement

This project is a revival and expansion of the traditions of gatekeepers, an ancient African lineage of queer spirit workers, artisans, and diviners. It presents to the world a new articulation of Afro-diasporic myth-science, a mode of knowledge that uses potent rituals and symbols to catalyze the expansion of consciousness and transform the human into a divine being.

Taken as a whole, the 16 figures of this project comprise the foundation of a complex cultural system, one that can claim to be the world’s first Black LGBTQ+ spiritual path. The rituals and practices that accompany these deities form part of a newly developed branch of traditional African religion that has strong conceptual and spiritual ties to ancient Egyptian religion, Kushite religion, Yoruba religion, Dogon religion, Odinala, Haitian Vodou, and Santeria. Rooted in a rich tapestry of African traditions, Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers fuses art and spirituality in its celebration of Black queer divinity. 

Read detailed descriptions of each of the 16 statues on Rainbow Serpent’s website.

Blackstar Sanctuary

Blackstar Sanctuary is a Rainbow Serpent VR film co-directed by Marques Redd and Mikael Owunna. It explores an expansive temple complex that houses the Black queer Kemetic deities of “Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers,” Rainbow Serpent’s debut glass sculpture collection.

The film is projected onto the walls of the Hodge Gallery, creating an immersive experience within the exhibition. The film is on view from 1pm to close during the exhibition. 


Rainbow Serpent is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to advancing Black LGBTQ culture through the exploration of emerging technologies, innovative healing protocols, African cosmologies, and multimedia art. Rainbow Serpent is dedicated to promoting and celebrating the diversity and richness of Black LGBTQ culture while advancing healing and empowerment within the community. The organization’s largest aim is to create a new radiant reality, one as resplendent and diverse as the Rainbow and as fertile and enduring as the Serpent.

About the Artists

Dr. Marques Redd

A multimedia artist, independent scholar, and traditional African cosmologist, Marques Redd is the Co-Founder/Executive Director of Rainbow Serpent. He was the director of Obi Mbu (The Primordial House), an experimental dance film about the creation of the world, and The Four World Ages, a multimedia live performance about the unfolding of human history. He has led multi-day retreats and workshops on African ritual around the country; published scholarly essays on figures such as the jazz musician Sun Ra, novelist Ishmael Reed, and art collective Women of Visions; and curated art exhibitions in several cities around the country, including Denver, Miami, Tampa, Columbus, Cleveland, Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Macon. (Photo: Emmai Alaquiva)

Mikael Owunna / @mikaelowunna

Mikael Owunna, the Co-Founder/Executive Director of Rainbow Serpent, is a Nigerian American multimedia artist, filmmaker, and engineer who explores the intersections of technology, art, and African cosmologies. Owunna’s work has been exhibited across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America and has been collected by institutions such as the Nasher Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Middlebury College Museum of Art; Equal Justice Initiative; Duke University Pratt School of Engineering; and National Taiwan Museum. His work has also been featured in media ranging from the New York Times to CNN, NPR, VICE, and The Guardian. He has lectured at venues including Harvard Law School, World Press Photo (Netherlands), Tate Modern (UK), and TEDx. Owunna has published two monographs: Limitless Africans (FotoEvidence, 2019) and Cosmologies (ClampArt, 2021). Owunna’s multimedia practice includes photography, film, animation, and live performance. His work has been commissioned for major public art installations by organizations including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Foundation, Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh International Airport, and Orange Barrel Media. (Photo: Emmai Alaquiva)


This exhibition is made possible with support from Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh; Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass; Arts Equity & Education Fund; Carnegie Mellon University Extended Reality Technology Center; Dawn & Chris Fleischner; The Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry; The Heinz Endowments; National Endowment for the Arts; The Pittsburgh Foundation; and Toledo Museum of Art.