Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Centre City banners celebrate Calgary’s connections

Next time you’re entering Calgary’s Centre City, be sure to take a look at the new banners up on the bridges leading into the core and the Olympic Plaza pergola. Created by artists Mary Haasdyk and My-An Nguyen, the series of six banners build on the concept of bridges being connectors to people and places all over The City. 

Haasdyk and Nguyen worked together to create the series over the course of 2015 and 2016, with Nguyen developing the environments and Haasdyk creating the characters within them. Each banner acts as a bridge between the different worlds and the viewer.

“As an illustrator, storytelling is something I’m always thinking of in my work,” says Haasdyk.  “These banners have a playful side, but they merge that with the idea of showing the viewer the value of connecting with other people and our community.”

Haasdyk and Nguyen, both local artists who attended ACAD, saw The City’s request for banner proposals and decided to submit a joint proposal for the project in 2015 when they saw the request. 

“We really just applied on a whim,” says Nguyen. “We were surprised when we heard that we got it – we had looked at the previous artists who had won contracts and they were already well-established, whereas we had just graduated and trying to get some experience by working together.”

Both artists say that working as a team was not without its challenges – they were able to overcome
this by breaking up the work to capitalize on their strengths in order to create banners that would capture the public’s attention in a fresh and interesting way. Both say that it was a good learning experience, and hope that those who see the banners will use their imagination as they engage with them.

“We didn’t want to just represent traditional environments,” says Nguyen. “We both agreed that we wanted each image to take on a fantastical element and sense of surrealism. We want to catch the viewer’s attention, and give them things to explore.”  “We also wanted a sense of celebrating our City and aspects of our history,” adds Haasdyk. “We hope that the public will see the beauty and the value of our city and our community in these pieces.”

The banners will remain in place for one year. Visit calgary.ca/centrecity for more information on the Centre City banner project and to view past and present artwork.

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