State College, Pennsylvania artist Alex Ramos caused a stir of sorts when he exhibited a series of his paintings at a Harvard University gallery last year.
The collection, called “Icons of Science Fiction,” features characters from Star Wars painted in the style of Byzantine icons.
Ramos calls the series “a playful parody” but many people took offense at the depictions, which included St. Leia Organa in a white robe and all with a halo around her head and robots C-3PO and R2-D2 as the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative slammed Harvard’s Divinity School for co-sponsoring the exhibition of Ramos’ art. In a piece entitled “Harvard Craps on Eastern Christians,” Dreher called Ramos’ paintings “deeply offensive to hundreds of millions of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians.”
(Note: Dreher doesn’t give any citation or substantiation on how he actually knows that “hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians” were offended).
But the paintings are certain to raise the eyebrows of some.
Ramos picked up painting as a hobby in 2012, just as he was beginning a PhD program in religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
His early works were mainly landscape and architectural paintings and he eventually graduated to other still-life images like glassware and ceramics.
But his most recent— and definitely most provocative— prints are something quite different.
Combining his religious studies background with his love of Star Wars and a sense of humor, Ramos created a series of Byzantine-style Icons of Science Fiction, placing famous characters from Star Wars into recognizable iconic art poses, such as C-3PO and R2-D2 as the Madonna and Child.
“It is a translation of Star Wars fans’ devotion to the series and a parallel form of devotional art – a playful take on Star Wars’ quasi-religious sort of background,” he explains. “People who are fans recognize it as sort of parallel to religious devotion at times; there’s this deep background knowledge of lore that is parallel to biblical lore,” he told a local newspaper in State College.
St. Ackbar and C-3PO and R2-D2 as the Virgin Mary and Child
St. Wicket W. Warrick and St. Lando Calrissian
St. BB-8 and St. Boss Nass
St. Luke, Wampa-slayer and St. Yoda
St. Boba Fett and St. Leia Organa
St. Obi-Wan Kenobi and St. Chewbacca
Jabba the Hutt’s Last Supper
See the artist’s complete collection here.
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