Vancouver’s Punjabi Market is hosting a new visual art project and collaboration featuring colourful street banners that line the area. Curated by the Indian Summer Festival, in partnership with the Punjabi Market Regenerative Collective, banners feature artwork from Debra Sparrow and Jag Nagra, artist and Collective member.
The project looked at the idea of place and placemaking in the context of the Punjabi Market being located on unceded, ancestral Musqueam territory and marking 51 years of existence as an important hub for the South Asian community.
Punjabi Market Public Art Street Banner Project
The Indian Summer Festival asked the two accomplished artists to respond to the Punjabi Market’s call for ideas to celebrate cultural traditions in the community. The resulting street banners are installed on Main Street between 48th and 52nd streets and will adorn the neighbourhood from April 12, 2021, until 2023. The Musqueam Nation’s banners are installed on the first and last poles on the street as an ‘embrace’ of this project and the Punjabi Market.
“Roadways in our world todayDebra Sparrow, Musqueam artist
Replace the rivers that were the roadways of the past
Where people congregate for food and gatherings
In Musqueam, the old people tell a story
Of a two-headed serpent making its way through the waterways
Leaving behind lilies…
Over the last two centuries, the story has disappeared deep into the bottom of the river
Only to reemerge in a vision by Isaiah Sparrow after the story was related to him
It is an honour to have such a young man following his history
Bringing back stories that are never ending and important for the places we live.
The geometric designs reflect the blanket patterns woven by Musqueam women,
And are as old as time…
The modern designed birds are filled with Salish elements
Like us, in this modern day world we adapt to.
The colours are in keeping with Jag Nagra
And her amazing reflection of her history,
Both as ancient as time
We walk together on this land”
This is also the first time in the Punjabi Market’s five-decades that the Musqueam Nation’s flag has flown in the market.
“The two banners I designed comprise of a phulkari pattern and a peacock. Phulkari is traditional embroidery from the Punjab region of India where individual stitches create bold, colourful patterns. And much like the phulkari, what makes up a community is the weaving of individuals. Thread by individual thread is intertwined to tell a story, one that connects us all.”Jag Nagra, artist and member of the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective
Since the first shop opened in 1970, the commercial area on Main Street between 48th and 51st has been home to the Punjabi Market, the first in Western Canada. With the growth of the South Asian community in South Vancouver, Punjabi Market quickly became the heartbeat of the neighbourhood. More than just a market, the community of shops, restaurants and grocery stores provides a connection to homelands across South Asia and a place to learn more about these diasporas in Vancouver.
Established in 2011, Indian Summer Festival is a multi-disciplinary arts festival produced by Indian Summer Arts Society, a not-for-profit charitable arts organization based in Vancouver, Canada, on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. This year’s festival runs from June 17th to July 17, 2021, with more programming information to be launched soon. Its mission is to offer daring, multi-arts events that bring together diverse artists, audiences, and artists in a global dialogue and citizenship spirit.