Take a look at Andy Everson's online presence -- Facebook, Twitter and his official site -- and you'll see that he's a man of three passions: His formline art, his K'omoks/Kwakwa?ka?'wakw First Nations culture, and Star Wars. He has been known to combine all three, and he did so recently when he transformed a Stormtrooper costume into a piece he calls Defender.
"During one of the pipelines protests, standing on the steps of the legislature building, I had this vision of a Stormtrooper looking through the crowd, all dripping with oil," he recalls. "It got me thinking, why not transform that, why not change it into something that's a positive message? So I started playing with this idea of getting rid of the pure whiteness of the uniform and overing it with our formline design. And I thought, change him from somebody that blindly follows the instructions from his higher-ups to somebody that can take action for himself and for his own people. And so I started to create this idea of this west coast warrior, this Defender of the Land."
Defender evolved naturally from ideas Everson has been playing with for a few years, aided by his interest in Idle No More and anti-pipeline protests. Here's a look at how this fearsome, benevolent Native guardian came to be (captions are from Everson's Facebook page):
November 13, 2012: "Warrior Up! Playing around with a design concept and thought it's time to Warrior Up! and protect the land...."
October 17, 2013: "Finished two new images today: Hero and Villain. Initially, they look the same but looks can be deceiving. Which side will you be on?"
This image ended up on the Defender's shield.
December 18, 2013: "In case the message isn't clear: Say "No" to the Enbridge pipeline that purports to travel through unceded First Nations territory! Black represents the oil, red represents the blood of our people"
February 11, 2014: "Mad scientist..hahaha!"
February 13, 2014: "The canvas is now set. The question remains: what, pray tell, am I gonna paint on this beast?"
February 20, 2014: "Painting formline on wonky asymmetrical plastic buckets is not as easy as I thought."
March 5, 2014: "Making progress.... My show opens March 14th."
March 12, 2014: "A little preview of my heron armour. The 6am photoshoot and cold feet was well worth it. Flippin' surreal! Ron Pogue...you rock!"
March 13, 2014: "Opening reception March 14 at 6pm"
March 15, 2014: "Northern Warrior"
March 17, 2014: "Defender -- Photo by Ron Pogue"
March 18, 2014: "Northern Warrior Maple, ABS plastic, acrylics"
March 18: "Defender"
March 18, 2014: "Close up of Defender on the landscape..."
May 3, 2014: "Gathering up my buckets."
May 4, 2014: "This is where I went with my bucket today."
Here's a video about the project and some of Everson's work in general: