Monday, August 12, 2013

Local art helps transform Centre City bridges

Calgary’s Centre City bridges and Olympic Plaza will soon feature new art banners which depict representations of the transformative powers of nature as visualized through the everyday realities of local First Nation’s life. The series showcases Calgary artist, Wil Yee whose work points out how even the little things in our environment tell a story of the transformations we all experience through realities like birth, change, adversity and even death.

“As I read about the First Nation’s people and learned more about their oral history, I found I appreciated their respect for the commonality we all share with nature and the local wildlife around Calgary. This helped me create the six bridge banners because I could use color, natural light and the power within these stories to create vibrations that I think reflect an energy that highlights the realities of life that we all share,” said Yee.

The new banners will be installed on seven bridges leading into the downtown area, including 14 Street (Mewata), Louise (10 Street), Centre Street, Langevin (Edmonton Trail), Inglewood , MacDonald and Zoo bridges.

Each of the banners is a visual interpretation and expression of local First Nations' myths and their relationship to Calgary and area. The combination of colors and imagery represent the transformation of elements and seasons through the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Calgary: "Moll-inistsis-in-aka-apewis" in Blackfoot, which literally means "elbow" - where the Elbow and Bow Rivers meet and form an "L" 

Old Man: A fun campfire story about the adventures of roasting squirrels and how birch trees got their markings.

Deer Lady: The story varies, but in this case reminds one not to be enchanted by desires causing one to lose sight of their purpose.

iinisskim: Interesting beliefs were created in hopes to rekindle a depleted, over-hunted buffalo population. One being iinisskim, an ammonite fossil called a "buffalo stone" and another in the form of sacred dance performed wearing a buffalo headdress.

Tricksters: Calgary's winters are synonymous with extreme: one day it's biting cold; the next day a chinook arrives with a warm reprieve. Tricksters from First Nations' tales are just as synonymous to their multi-faceted personalities.

Era of the horse: The legends say, the horse (elk dog) sprung from the waters and transformed the way of life on the Plains.

The Centre City Banner Program, launched in 2008, is managed by The City of Calgary’s Land Use Planning & Policy, Centre City Planning  & Implementation team. The intent of the program is to engage local artists to provide artwork specifically for exhibition as banners and  to beautify our city and animate the urban landscape. In a way, the bridges  create a narrative for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers through art.

Banners are replaced annually with a new look and story to welcome people to the downtown area.

The banner program is funded through both the Downtown Improvement Fund and the Public Art Program.

1 comment:

  1. This striking artwork adds such beauty, charm and integrity to your city. Wil Yee is a brilliant artist and Calgary, you are blessed to have him in your midst. How sweet to see an artist get the notoriety he deserves.

    Susan Kerr
    Penticton BC