New REDress art installation unveiled in Sooke
Métis artist's metal fabrication version of the design donated by the Sooke Rotary Club
A Métis artist in Sooke now has two art installations to her name, before she has even graduated high school. Pyper Phillips is a student at Edward Milne Community School where she, among her regular curriculum, studies metal fabrication.
Her most recent piece is now installed in front of the Sooke Municipal Hall. It’s a bright red dress with Northwest Coast formline cutouts, designed by artist Karver Everson.
The dress was designed as a logo for the Lil’ Red Dress Project, a Vancouver Island-based non-profit that buys advertising such as large billboards to try to find missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Everson, a Kwakwaka’wakw and K’ómoks artist, donated the design to the project and is glad to see other artists engage with it, so long as they respect where it came from.
“I think it's a really important thing to give other people the opportunity to engage with the cause and with what it means,” he said. His work is mostly carving, so he says it’s neat to see someone translate his design into a different medium like Phillips has done.
The red dress became a national symbol for Missing and Murdered Indigenus Women and Girls in Canada when Metis artist Jamie Black hung 500 empty red dresses in public spaces around Winnipeg in 2010. She intended the dresses to confront viewers with the violence that women are facing and experience, and to visually represent “the presence and power of Indigenous women.”
After consulting with T’Sou-ke First Nation leaders on an appropriate location, Phillip’s metal form red dress was installed outside Sooke’s municipal hall. The first version of the dress is on display at Edward Milne Community School, and another copy was given to the Lil’ Red Dress Project to thank them for allowing Phillips to use the design.