Greer Lankton Shrines

By Sai Koros

January 2020

“It’s all about ME, Not You” is a permanent installation by Greer Lankton at the Mattress Factory in the North Side. A recreation of the artist’s own apartment, the exhibit features multiple shrines to feminine icons and Jesus. Though some objects appeared in previous artworks, the full installation was initially displayed at the Mattress Factory shortly after her death in 1996 and later re-installed at the museum in 2009 where it’s remained ever since.

As a transgender woman raised by a Presbyterian minister, Lankton had a complicated relationship with religion and gender. She struggled with addiction and illness throughout her life, eventually dying of a drug overdose at 38-years-old. Her art reveals the depth of these struggles with illness, Jesus, and femininity.

Around the exhibit, Lankton displays her personal shrines to Patti Smith, Candy Darling, and Jesus. Each shrine incorporates Lankton’s distinctive, handmade doll sculptures as well as curated collections of icons. The sheer concentration of icons is visually stimulating, almost overwhelmingly so. Put together, they create devoted space that seems prime for inspiration, meditation, and even prayer.

Cornering the focal point of the installation, Lankton drapes bare-breasted torsos over crosses like gaunt shells of femininity. They hang on the wall directly beside a collection of framed Christian icons, one of which boldly reads, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” In referencing the Christian belief that Jesus’s death absolved all sins, Lankton implies that her sins are an exception–that her life at the margins is sinful and unforgiven. These religious objects hang over the drugged person in bed as Christian bodies haunting Lankton.

A wider view of Lankton’s installation including shrines to Patti Smith and Candy Darling.

Further Reading

Cotter, Holland. “The Artist and the Work, both Intricate and Fluid.” The New York Times, 2014, pp. C26.

King, Margery. “Greer’s World.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 9 no. 4, 2003, p. 557-563. Project

The Mattress Factory. “It’s all about ME, Not You / Greer Lankton.” The Mattress Factory,

Givens, David. “Religious Thought and Queer Representation in the Making Advances workshop.” Constellations, 2018,

How to Cite 

MLA: Koros, Sai. “Greer Lankton Shrines.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 8 February 2020,

APA: Koros, Sai. 8 February 2020. Greer Lankton Shrines. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh.

Chicago: Koros, Sai. “Greer Lankton Shrines.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 8 February 2020.