That moment we have been anticipating has finally arrived—the return of the Star Wars saga! Cashing in on that hype is Holiday Starkillers now on view at the Anacostia Arts Center. Featuring the talents of Chris Bishop, Scott G. Brooks, Jared Davis, Greg Ferrand, Steve Strawn and Andrew Wodzianksi, the exhibition provides both tongue-in-cheek humor and religious-themed satire in equal measure.
Chris Bishop’s paintings of Darth Vader and cheeky Star Wars-inspired robots executed in bright, primary colors are subtle studies of shape and form masquerading as simple pop-inspired works. Jared Davis’s cubist-inspired portraits and movie scenes bump this shape-shifting up a notch with their more complex interplay of shapes and colors. These lighthearted works counterbalance the more weighty themes found in works of other artists.
Also accentuating this spirit of daring fun (while bringing it to a more humanistic level) are Andrew Wodzianski’s works which cast the artist as iconic characters like Jar Jar Binks and Darth Vader. Here Wodzianski adds an intergalactic element to his Fanboy Series of masked self-portraits that play games with identity rather than elucidate it. While still irreverent, the images suggest portals between our reality and other, more metaphysical universes may appear at the blink of an eye.
Honing in on that concept of the metaphysical are the works of Scott G. Brooks. Characters in his pieces are presented in almost religious tones. Risen She Has: The Ascension of Leia, for example, casts Princess Leia not as movie heroine but as a voluptuous deity complete with a shining halo to complement her iconic double bun. Steve Straw cements these metaphysical tones into the area of religion when he casts Boba Fett as a stand-in for Christ in a series of staged, photographic vignettes.
A slight outlier, Gregory Ferrand steps out of the Star Wars-centric world and into a more generic sci-fi world where androids and humans freely coexist. True Love (as experienced by a protocol droid) envisions a future world where personhood may no longer be defined solely by biology—an observation truly at home within the Star Wars universe.
While there is an overarching feeling of lightheartedness, the exhibition demonstrates that the Star Wars saga—with a Force that delineates good and evil—has parallels to our own understandings of religion in contemporary society.
Holiday Starkillers runs through January 9, 2016 at the Anacostia Arts Center. For hours and directions, visit their website here.