THE PAINTINGS OF PHYLLIS DAVIDSON

Selections from Plastic Saints and Plaster Gods Series (1997-2000)



“The Summoner
oil on canvas
48” x 46”
painting of American icons
Looking for America - I
oil on canvas
48” x 66”






painting of American icons
Looking for America - Il
oil on canvas
48” x 66”





painting of american icons
The Seduction Zone
oil on canvas
48” x 66”





satiric painting


“Plastic Saints and Plaster Gods” is a visual survey of our gods, goddesses, and superheroes. This series explores the American state of mind, in which illusion is preferred over reality to the point where the replica is accepted as genuine and the imitation replaces the source.

From Superman and the Statue of Liberty to Joe Camel and Santa Claus in the “Looking for America” trilogy to the cavalcade of Christs in “The Jesus Room” these are the plastic and resin symbols that currently define our American culture.

The idea for this series of paintings came after seeing discarded piles of Mardi Gras parade figures stored in warehouses in Algiers, Louisiana, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. I was struck by how familiar these were to me. These effigies have been with me for all the years I've been on Earth. Santa and Donald and Mickey, cowboys and dragons, angels and monsters; saints and sinners and fools: these plastic saints and plaster gods have defined my life. So it is that the images in all the paintings are a combination of Mardi Gras figures, advertising icons, cheesy souvenirs and carnival and amusement park props.

In "The Seduction Zone," the seventh painting in this series, contemporary sex toys from Hollywood join ancient fertility symbols and Mardi Gras characters in a boisterous bacchanal.

The series ends with "Mary Queen of Heaven," who looks out at us over the course of almost two thousand years from countless paintings and sculptures. In my painting, she is presented in several of her reincarnations ranging from contemporary cheap plaster versions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, giant papier-mâché figures used in current pageants to the image of the Black Virgin of Montserrat and the Gothic (Andachtsbild) Pieta.



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