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  • Writer's pictureAparna Singhal

Connections to Art: "Our Memories" by Sandeep Johal

While I have yet to see this mural in person, even a photograph of this amazing piece of art has impacted me significantly. Titled “Our Memories”, the images in each frame tell stories that speak to the stories I have heard from my parents, family members, family friends who immigrated from South Asian countries.

OUR MEMORIES in partnership with Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, and the City of Vancouver |Vancouver, 2021 |Located at Ross Park


The smells of delicious snacks and food on every train platform, the sounds of the train going Chug! Chug! Chug!, and the sights of luscious countryside combined with busy everyday lives carrying on in each village are distinct and happy memories of many childhood trips to India. The train ride from Delhi to Bareilly to see my grandparents is one I can even now feel the excitement for - after all, I only got the chance to see them every four years. So the first frame depicting the water buffalo takes me back to all the beauty in wildlife, landscape and people that I would see along these journeys, and the stories and memories of these incredible family trips.

Another frame that speaks to me is the plane with hearts trailing behind. This image speaks so strongly to the stories I have heard from my parents who both left parts of their hearts as they immigrated to Canada. While excited for new opportunities, they both have shared how difficult it was to leave behind loved ones and their birth country, a place that is filled with so many memories.

Some of the other frames evoke memories for me of how my parents strived to enrich my life with my Indian heritage. They provided opportunities for valuable and precious connections to my family, to their mother tongue, and to the richness of Indian culture. The frame of girls dancing symbolizes and reminds me of the joy I have felt while learning various forms of Indian dance - Bharata Natyam, Kathak, and folk dancing. There is a sense of freedom, joy, and fun that warms my heart with this connection.

Sandeep’s mural is so moving and so impactful to me - the connection to family, to storytelling, to food and chai, and to belonging stay with me. I can hardly wait to see this in person one day and am sure it will continue to stay with me.

Note: Sandeep Johal is a Vancouver based visual artist whose colourful geometric forms and intricate black and white line work is aesthetically and conceptually inspired by her South Asian heritage. Johal believes in the power of art to create awareness around issues related to cultural identity, gender equality, and human rights. Her art practice is an expression of her social and cultural concerns, particularly gender justice.

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