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What Is Statuary?

A statue of Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping at Lianhua Mountain Park in Shenzhen, China.
Religious statuary is common in many areas.
A statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th American president, was created by sculptor Jim Brothers.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Statuary is a group of statues or sculptures. Statues are loosely defined as being life-size or nearly life-size likenesses of people or animals. Hand-held and small sculptures aren't statues, but rather are statuettes or figurines. Some companies sell statues for gardens or churches, but statuary also refers to more that one statue such as statues in a building or public park.

For instance, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, features the outdoor Feith Family Statuary Park. This park provides a green space for patients and staff to rest and it contains statues of a nun and members of the Mayo family. The figures are grouped in different areas of the park and one grouping is of two people perched in the center of the park's cement stairway. The figures are complete from head to toe and they sit on the stairs as real people would.

An example of an indoor statue grouping is at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection features two statues of political figures from each of 50 states. A statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th American president, is one of Kansas' entries and it was created by sculptor Jim Brothers. Indoor religious statuary can be found at many churches and there are businesses that specialize in creating church-themed statues and sculptures. Catholic churches are especially known to have church statuary that includes Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Catholic saints.

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Some homeowners like to feature statuary in their gardens or yards. These groups of outdoor statues are often of animals such as ducklings following a mother duck or a sculpture of a large pig. Figures of fairyland creatures and angels are popular stone or concrete sculptures in gardens; some of these are also bird feeders or fountains. Themes can be created with groups of garden statues such as Japanese concrete lanterns and Buddha sculptures to make Asian gardens.

Cement or concrete statuary is sometimes made to look like old metal if homeowners want the look of aged statues. Light and dark shades of paints in colors such as olive green and bronzed browns may be used depending on the desired result. The darker shades of paint are used in places on the statues where sunlight doesn't shine on it, while lighter shades of paint are used on areas where light naturally touches them. Scrubbing the dried paint with steel wool before wetting the statue may create a desirable weather-worn look. Some people even try to get moss to grow on the distressed sculptures to try to make the statues look really old.

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