Blanketing The City: A Mural Series

Photo Credit: Vancouver Sun

A Three Part Mural Series Celebrating Coast Salish Weaving
Designed by Debra Sparrow + Produced by The Vancouver Mural Festival

BLANKETING THE CITY, by Debra Sparrow, acclaimed Musqueam Weaver and Graphic Designer, celebrates the resurgence of Coast Salish weaving in profoundly visible, public and accessible spaces across the city by transforming Coast Salish textile patterns into giant murals that will also incorporate contemporary design elements. This series is rooted in an emerging practice of cultural reclamation of the visual spaces of Vancouver for the Coast Salish people and is part of a process of creating new channels of transmission of indigenous knowledge across generations, cultures and communities.  

Visitors to Granville Island on May 12th will witness the unveiling of the first piece in the series. The murals will be painted on the two cement pillars of the Granville Street Bridge near the Public Market. They will wrap around the 20 ft diameter pillars and measure over 44 ft in height. Debra Sparrow’s work will be the centrepiece of a new free public event called Art Smash on Saturday May 12th, 1-9pm that features 8 new murals and an all-ages street party. Blanketing The City continues this summer with installations in Strathcona and Mount Pleasant. 

This project arose from conversations with Debra Sparrow who challenged the Vancouver Mural Festival to find more foundational ways to observe cultural protocol and acknowledge the visual culture of the people who have thrived in these lands for thousands of years and continue to create and evolve their culture on these unceded territories. The direct result of our ongoing conversations over the past year is the mural series: Blanketing the City, where VMF gives a central place in the festival to Coast Salish weaving traditions that are shared by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh Nations and many other Nations in the Pacific Northwest. With the installation of large scale murals made by Coast Salish weaving artists this series aims to contribute to the reversal of the systemic suppression of the visual culture of the local nations in the public spaces of Vancouver. 

We see Blanketing The City as a way to acknowledge the suppression of the Coast Salish culture while seizing an opportunity to celebrate its resilience and its re-emergence as a foundational and central visual form in our public spaces. 

David Vertesi