Artist Sunroop Kaur joins California’s campaign to stop Covid-19

Sunroop Kaur
Sunroop Kaur

Sunroop Kaur’s ‘Basant’ mural in Stockton celebrates the South Asian community with a message of hope.

Artist Sunroop Kaur and a score other artists have joined California’s “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign providing information about how to do their part to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Featuring 14 original works produced in mediums including performing, literary, and visual arts in public places throughout California, the program launched in April with installations and performances through June at various locations.

Many installations will be displayed for at least six months. Titled Basant (Spring), Kaur’s massive 20 feet tall and 75 feet wide mural is located at the corner of East Main Street and Grant Street in downtown Stockton.

“I wanted the colors to be inviting, welcoming, just uplifting overall,” Kaur, 23, told FOX40.

“The Gurdwara that was founded in America actually is the one that is in Stockton established in 1912,” said Kaur who has strong ties to Stockton.  “And it’s the same one I’ve been attending with my grandparents since the fourth or fifth grade.”

READ: Indian American physicians, artists offer India support in Covid crisis (April 29, 2021)

Celebrating the South Asian community, the mural reminds people that masking and physical distancing have helped stop the spread of Covid-19,

Basant has a Mughal miniature-inspired floral border and arches that reference ancient Indian architecture. A pastel color palate and blossoms symbolize the season of spring and new beginnings, while lapis blue accents honor Kaur’s Sikh faith.

“Sort of the blooming after a long winter which is sort of what Covid has been like,” Kaur said.

A masked man and woman depicted in the mural are separated by arches, depicting a tender moment that acknowledges both the need to maintain physical distance and the universal longing to be close to our loved ones.

“I wanted to capture the moment, that sort of universal longing that we felt for our loved ones where, you know, we want to be close to them. We want to be near them but we can’t because, in fact, we want to keep them safe,” she explains.

“The arches act as a window to the outside world,” says Kaur. “These ‘windows’ symbolize the light we are all working toward by continuing to wear masks and watching our distance in public to help stop the spread of Covid-19. There is hope.”

Kaur says she didn’t just transform the side of the building, but the mural has the power to impact the community surrounding it.

“Just working on this piece I’ve talked to so many people who come up wanting to learn about my culture, wanting to learn about the meaning of the piece and just sort of having those dialogues in conversation I think is super important, so I’m grateful to have been the conduit for that conversation,” Kaur told Fox 40.

She hopes the piece makes people more aware of Covid-19 and her community.

Leveraging the power of art as a form of communication and supporting California’s arts community, the program was developed in partnership with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by Covid-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Foundation.

“Art has incredible power and we believe these works will spark important conversations, connections and inspiration throughout the state,” he said.

Most of the artists are from the communities where their art is being produced. The project engages Latino, Black/African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American/Indigenous and LGBTQ artists and communities.

Celebrating works that provide cultural and linguistic context for communicating messages of awareness, hope, resilience and community, artwork is sited in disproportionately impacted communities to reach ethnically and linguistically diverse audiences throughout California.

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