The robot C-3PO cradles R2-D2 as in a traditional Madonna and child painting. The gangster slug Jabba the Hutt sits at the center of a “Last Supper”-ish table. Luke Skywalker rides a tauntaun across the icy wastes to battle the wampa snow beast—in a pose recalling traditional religious paintings of St. George offing a dragon.

Alex Ramos’s “Saints of Star Wars” paintings lightly tease the way we “worship” the “Star Wars” mythology by reimagining the famous sci-fi heroes as Byzantine religious icons. The free exhibit is on view at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions conference room, 42 Francis Ave., Cambridge, from Feb. 4 to June 10, 2019.

BB-8, Boba Fett, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Darth Vader (with his skull-like mask in his hand) are portrayed with red-outlined halos against gold (acrylic) backgrounds.

Alex Ramos's “Saints of Star Wars” exhibit at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions. (Greg Cook)
Alex Ramos’s “Saints of Star Wars” exhibit at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions. (Greg Cook)

Ramos, who is based in State College, Pennsylvania, earned a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2011 then a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mostly Ramos paints landscapes and still-lifes. “The original inspiration was the Chewbacca painting,” Ramos says. “I thought of the way John the Baptist is depicted in these icons with the very stylized pelt around his chest. I thought Chewbacca looked very interesting as a very pelty figure.”

Alex Ramos, "C-3PO and R2-D2 Madonna and Child."
Alex Ramos, “C-3PO and R2-D2 Madonna and Child.”

Then he got to wondering, “How would other characters look like in this sort of stylized caricature?” He painted most of them in 2015. Ramos describes the artworks as “playful, but painting something about how fans of ‘Star Wars’ and other science fiction, how invested they are—myself included—in this universe. The story is undergirding a lot of the ways you think about something.”

Ramos adds, “This is a funny way to think about how you interact with his mythology.”

Around the characters’ heads is red lettering in Greek. “Saint” or “holy one” becomes “hagios” (male) or “hagia” (female), followed by the characters’ names. The inscription around Luke “identifies him as the wampa slayer,” Ramos says. “The Ackbar one also says ‘It’s a trap’ in the corner. I couldn’t not do that.”

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Alex Ramos, "St. Luke, Wampa-slayer."
Alex Ramos, “St. Luke, Wampa-slayer.”
Alex Ramos, "St. Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Alex Ramos, “St. Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Alex Ramos, "Anakin Redeemed."
Alex Ramos, “Anakin Redeemed.”
Alex Ramos, "St. Boba Fett."
Alex Ramos, “St. Boba Fett.”
Categories: Art