The next time you’re in Vancouver’s Punjabi Market, look up! A South Asian Vancouver-based artist, Jessie Sohpaul, and a Musqueam artist from Chilliwack, Chase Gray, have teamed up to design the bold and meaningful banners that now hang around the Punjabi Market.
For the next two years, when you walk through South Vancouver’s Punjabi Market, which is located on unceded ancestral Musqueam territory, you will notice the artwork that celebrates the market, the people and the very land the banners stand on.
Sohpaul told Daily Hive that he and Gray put months of work and intention behind designing the banners hanging today.
Sohpaul said while he picked the colours they both used in each of their designs, the banners by him and Gray have two different meanings.
For Sohpaul’s banners, he said he wanted his work to pop and be bold “like how typical Punjabis are.” The patterns were nods to the history of fabric and clothing stores in the market.
His banners also read “Punjabi Bazaar” in a script used by Punjabi Sikhs.
“It takes us back to our roots and literally puts our language at the front of the market,” Sohpaul said.
Gray’s banners, on the other hand, were designed in honour of his Musqueam roots and represent the land the Punjabi Market is on.
“He came up with a concept with the salmon and the fish representing the land, and life, and sky, and the people,” Sohpaul explained.
Chase's set of banners honours his Musqueam roots and represent the very land the banners stand on. Salmon sustain life on these lands. While salmon are the life of the water, eagles are known as rulers of the sky, symbolizing strength, wisdom, knowledge, protection, and courage.
— Jessie Sohpaul ~*~ (@jessiesohpaul) April 11, 2023
This is not the first time art in the market has been created collaboratively by Indian and Indigenous artists. Sohpaul emphasizes that collaboration is essential to the community since it’s a reminder to recognize who the land belongs to.