Sunday January 17, 2016

Star Wars characters take off in Navajo artist's landscapes

Bounty Hunter and Trickster Encounter, 24" x 40", acrylic on canvas, 2010.

Bounty Hunter and Trickster Encounter, 24" x 40", acrylic on canvas, 2010. (Ryan Singer)

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Ryan Singer has already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens three times. There is no doubt that Singer is a fan, but for this Navajo artist it could also be called research.

Singer creates vibrant works of art that blend the landscapes from his childhood home of Tuba City, Arizona, along with characters from the Star Wars series.

"It was childhood memories that helped fuel all those visions and ideas to make the paintings," said Singer.

Singer was a five-year-old when Star Wars came out in 1977. "The neighbourhood kids, we all had Star Wars toys," he recalled.

"It was kind of a generational thing at the time. I remember going in the washes near my grandma's sheep camp and playing with the toys and it looked just like the scene in Tatooine where R2-D2 and C-3PO are walking down the washes — those dried up waterbeds."

Tuba City Spaceport Ryan Singer

Tuba City Spaceport, 30" x 40", acrylic on canvas, 2011. (Ryan Singer)

Tuba City Spaceport is one of Singer's favourite paintings.

"When I was doing that, I had the idea of parallel universes and time travel," explained Singer.

"These Star Wars characters could be hanging out with 19th-century Navajo at the trading post, trading jewellery."

Ryan Singer The New Ambassadors

The New Ambassadors, 20" x 24", acrylic on canvas, 2015. (Ryan Singer)

The painting depicts sandpeople, jawas, stormtroopers, and even Greedo the bounty hunter from the original Star Wars movie, mingling with Navajo people at the trading post in Tuba City.

"The land itself looks similar to Mos Eisley which is on Tatooine," said Singer. Mos Eisley is the spaceport where Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi first meet Han Solo.

Ryan Singer Princess Leia

Princess Leia with Shiprock, 24" x 30", acrylic on canvas, 2011. (Ryan Singer)

"The Tuba City trading post I remember from when I was kid. Running through there, buying little snacks, popsicles, comic books," recalled Singer.

"I would go there after school. So it was always a part of my childhood."