Few faces are as recognizable as the black, skull-like helmet of one of film’s most famous villains. It’s an image that calls to mind menacing asthma, ominous music and the words “I am your father.”
Four years ago, toy company DKE Toys, headed by Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks, sent out one hundred iconic Darth Vader helmets to artists in fields ranging from graffiti to pop surrealism. Each returned transformed. The Vader Project made its debut in 2007 in Los Angeles, making its way through London, Japan and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh before coming to rest at Freeman’s, at 18th and Chestnut, before they’re auctioned on July 10. They’re on display through July 9, last chance to see!
The re-imagined helmets range from light-hearted (pink is surprisingly prominent, as are cute/less-threatening motifs) to militaristic. Some stay close to the source, depicting scenes and characters from the movies. Others wander further afield: A couple combine the already-alarming visage with another childhood terror, clowns. Each piece tries to draw on some facet of what the character represents in pop-culture consciousness.