Street banner artists share their inspiration

·5 min read

As you travel through Richmond, you may notice colourful and unique street banners hanging above you.

Each year, 10 artists are chosen from a pool of applicants to have their work displayed on banners. Each winning design represents one of the 10 categories: resilience, community, connection, wellness, active living, urban landscape, nature, island city, the arts and sustainability.

Three of this year’s winning artists shared the inspiration behind their designs: Micah Groberman, Dawn Levelton and Megan Yung.

Submissions for this year’s contest are being accepted through Sept. 17 at richmond.ca/banners

Micah Groberman (nature)

How long have you been creating art, and what inspired you to start?

“I have been involved in the arts for many years, mainly music after growing up in a creative family. I dabbled in photography a few years ago and fell in love with the peace of mind I felt while out on photography walks. I shoot mainly wildlife, nature and landscape and was truly inspired to find a new focus when the pandemic hit.”

Why did you submit your art to the city's street banner contest?

“I was inspired to submit a couple of years ago to the Richmond street banner contest with photos that did not make the cut. I noticed that Richmond was holding the street banner contest again and thought my photography had greatly improved over the past year and I wanted to submit again.”

What inspired the piece that became a banner?

“My kids truly inspired that image. I was out on a photo walk with my eight-year-old son when we noticed a great blue heron on the water’s edge in Terra Nova. I was lucky to be in the right spot at the right time when a red-winged blackbird came flying straight at the heron, making for a dramatic nature photo.”

What emotions do you feel seeing your art displayed around the city?

“I am very proud of the photo and that I get to share that feeling with my family, hopefully inspiring my kids to continue with photography.”

Dawn Levelton (active living)

How long have you been creating art, and what inspired you to start?

“Since I was very young. I started out with drawing and painting like most kids and always took art classes as electives in high school, when I discovered my love for carving soapstone. I studied fine arts in college and fell in love with photography when I was studying photo journalism.”

Why did you submit your art to the city's street banner contest?

“I wanted to share the joy this picture brings me with my community. It has all the elements I love—nature, bright cheerful colours and my cruiser in a field of flowers covered in sunshine. Another part of me entered this contest to see if I could win. Nothing felt more gratifying than winning something during a time when we all could use a big win.”

What inspired the piece that became a banner?

“Nature is always my biggest inspiration. This picture was taken during the height of the pandemic on a bike ride with my other half Steve. When we approached this gorgeous field of wild lupin flowers, I felt a sense of urgency to capture that moment of pure bliss that I felt needed to be shared during a time of such fear and uncertainty.”

What emotions do you feel seeing your art displayed around the city?

“I feel an overflowing amount of joy and pride. I see my banner almost daily (and) it brings a smile to my face every time. As a lifelong artist, nothing fills my soul more than to share my art with my community, with the hope that seeing my art may brighten someone’s day.”

Megan Yung (the arts)

How long have you been creating art, and what inspired you to start?

“I’ve been doing art my whole life, (but) I started taking it more seriously at the beginning of high school—I just recently graduated.”

Why did you submit your art to the city's street banner contest?

“This (contest) came up on my feed when I was scrolling social media, (and) I decided to apply in 2019. I got the art banner in 2019 and was fortunate enough to get it again in 2020. I’m mostly self-taught, so it was out of the desire to push myself out of my comfort zone. The challenge with the art banners was to create something that represented Richmond. I used that to expand the ways I create art and practice with new artistic mediums.”

What inspired the piece that became a banner?

“I created (it) during quarantine and I was looking at a lot of artists online for inspiration. One artist was using a lot of negative space in their concepts with watercolours, so I tried to incorporate that graphic white space in the flowing portion of my banner. I also hoped to capture the (feeling) of time passing sort of slowly during the time in quarantine.”

What emotions do you feel seeing your art displayed around the city?

“It feels both like an honour and kind of strange. The fact that I submitted my artwork and getting it (put on a banner) back in 2019 inspired some of my friends who are photographers to also submit their work for the contest. It’s a nice feeling to have more youth artists showing what we have to offer as the up-and-coming generation.”

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel

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