Rashmi Tyagi talks about her new mural installation and how it was inspired by the natural beauty of North Vancouver
Gwen Pemberton (she/her) // Arts & Culture Editor
JJ Eng (they/them) // Illustrator
Many CapU students strolling around Lonsdale on their way to campus may notice a new addition to the scenery at 151 W Esplanade Ave. A brand new mural by local artist Rashmi Tyagi was recently installed just one block up from the Shipyards area as part of the annual Vancouver Mural Festival. Tyagi’s piece is a vinyl installation sponsored by the City of North Vancouver, and the sprawling, three-panel image is a celebration of the rich diversity of North Vancouver’s flora and fauna. Entitled “Reverie,” Tyagi hopes that her work will offer a moment of respite from busy daily life, and allow those in the neighborhood to appreciate the natural beauty of the city, as well as the importance of preserving it.
As a graphic designer and illustrator with a background in architecture, Tyagi has largely focused her work in the digital space during her time as an independent artist. “This is my first big mural. There was a lot that I was trying to bring together,” she shared.
Originally from northern India, Tyagi recalls growing up among rich culture and biodiversity, surrounded by mountains. Arriving in North Vancouver earlier this year, she says that the mountains here helped her to form a new understanding of connectivity. “For me it is the same. The same feelings and community. It’s the same force that connects us all.” Tyagi says that recognizing the different cultures that surround us helped to shape and ground her work. She compares the different kinds of people to the different kinds of plants that surround us.
Though she had never tackled a project quite like this one, Tyagi said that shortly after arriving in Vancouver she just had a feeling that she should apply to the Vancouver Mural Festival. VMF is a non-profit organization supporting local artists, with the intention of building community and lifting up underrepresented and marginalized voices. Tyagi applied with the idea she would be painting a traditional mural. However, the organization worked with her and decided on a vinyl installation, which allowed Tyagi to create her art digitally. She speaks highly of the VMF team’s efforts in bringing her work to life, both in their commitment and collaboration with the city and herself.
The piece itself, titled “Reverie,” is a love letter to the diverse biota of North Vancouver. Rich and robust in depth and colour, Tyagi says that the idea of flow was central to her design. A sense of movement and story carry the viewer through scenes of local nature, as seen through the human eye. She says that the title helped to inform her design. “Concepts are very important to me,” says Tiagi. The guidelines for the piece aligned with including various local species, many of which the artist says she is grateful to have discovered through this project. Some notable examples include Japanese irises, torch lilies, hostas and Preston lilacs.
A recurring motif in Tyagi’s mural is the idea of humans as guardians of the natural world. Each scene in the image centers nature through the human perspective, and emphasizes humanity as a force for preservation and stewardship. “Human beings are just traveling through the cosmos as part of the exchange we have with the universe. In reality we are not entitled to anything in the enormity of nature. We are temporary. We are visitors on Earth,” says Tyagi. Especially amidst the ongoing climate crisis, the artist feels the importance to emphasize the insignificance of humans amidst the vastness of Mother Nature.
Nature doesn’t need our attention, she says, but it offers the opportunity to recognize a spiritual need to witness what is happening around us, so that we can witness what is inside of us. “Reverie” offers viewers a chance to observe, to reflect and to appreciate. “The main feeling that I would want the audience to come away with is the idea that we are here to protect and preserve,” Tyagi shares “I would be so happy if that is what people take away from this piece.”