You made a series of mirrored shields that you distributed to people on the front lines. How did that come about?
I was inspired by these activists in the Ukraine. These women — old women and children — and they came out and carried mirrors from their bathrooms and into the street to show these riot policemen what they looked like. From the photos I saw, it seemed profoundly effective. I wanted to bring that same level of recognition to the front lines there.
But Standing Rock is in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t want people to bring mirrors to the front line and get hit with batons and cause more damage than good. So what we needed was a mirrored shield. So I came up with a simple, easy and cheap design to make these mirrored shields using vinyl and Masonite — materials you can find in any hardware store. From one sheet of Masonite, you could make six shields.
I started making them after that Sunday that they were hitting people with hoses. I personally made close to 100 of them. But then another group out of Minneapolis made 500. I have no idea how many are in circulation. But I keep seeing them here and there.
What role do you think artists can have in protest?
Being an artist, it is a way to weaponize privilege. I could have been on the front line a dozen times, but my wife said, “You are one person there; you are 10,000 here — where you can engage all of these resources.”
–Cannupa Hanska Luger interviewed in the L.A. Times by Carolina A. Miranda