New Vancouver billboard pays homage to frontline workers

Sep 11 2020, 5:41 pm

A new billboard that pays homage to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has popped up in downtown Vancouver.

The artist behind the piece located on Helmcken near Granville is Jag Nagra, a local graphic designer and creative director for the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collection (PMRC).

Nagra tells Daily Hive that she originally created the piece depicting a warrior shooting a bow and arrow prior to COVID-19. “But once the pandemic hit, especially in the early days, I was so overwhelmed with anxiety of not knowing what was to come,” she said.

“So I turned to my art as I often do to work through my feelings and I reimagined this warrior as a frontline worker battling the virus. It was a way to cope with my fear.”

Nagra explains the warrior is not based on any particular folklore or figure.

“I tend to focus my art on strong Indian woman,” she said, adding that she wants to “show women in a different light” through her work.

“My wife and I have a two-year-old daughter and a two-week-old son, and we want them to grow up surrounded by images of strength. We don’t want them to form opinions based on negative gender stereotypes. That’s what inspires me.”

Nagra says this piece is ultimately her way of thanking all the frontline and healthcare workers who are working around the clock to provide care during the pandemic.

“I don’t take that for granted and am very grateful.”

One of six new public pieces focusing on social issues

The billboard is one of six new artworks focused on pressing social issues such as Black Lives Matter, the COVID-10 pandemic, and the overdose crisis that will be featured around Vancouver in partnership with the City’s Platforms 2020: Public Works. 

Platforms 2020: Public Works highlights the crucial role of art in our community by sharing the works of local artists who continue to work from their living rooms, bedrooms, and on the streets of the city at this critical moment,” said Eric Fredericksen, Head of Public Art for City of Vancouver,” in a release.

“The themes addressed in these works are so central to the human experience right now, and will offer our community new ways to connect during this time of crisis.”

This month’s programming also includes Deanne Achong’s Pandemik Piks, Jackie Dives’ Things My Dad Taught Me, Nicolas Sassoon’s Tree Houses, and Randy Lee Cutler’s On the Other Hand, and the Bagua Artist Association’s Roadside Diary.

Find out more about artists, their works, and where you can find these public art pieces on the City of Vancouver’s Platforms 2020: Public Works website.

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