If you’re a long-time Vancouverite, you’ve probably got at least one image of the iconic East Van cross in your Instagram feed. Erected in 2010 and standing an impressive 57-feet tall at the corner of Clark Drive and Sixth Avenue, the monument demands your attention. And almost immediately, it became a symbol of the unwavering spirit of East Vancouver.
Ken Lum is the artist behind the Monument for East Vancouver, the official name of the LED sculpture, bearing the words East (running up and down) and Van (running left to right), with the letters arranged in a cross.
Lum drew his inspiration for the piece from art and images of a cross with the words ‘East Van’ written underneath that originated way back to the 1940s. He believes that it may have come from the large Catholic population in East Van at the time but soon artists began using the image in walls and sidewalks as a form of graffiti. The same image began appearing on T-shirts and memorabilia around that time, taking away any religious connotation the image might have had.
Today, the cross has become an important symbol of East Van’s revival – a symbol of defiance and hope, and of the renewed spirit of East Vancouver. For those of us who live here, East Vancouver is more than just a district. We love everything about our home, from the diverse and vibrant communities to those one-of-a-kind independent stores and the colourful public (wall) art that captures the underground culture of East Van so well.
And we’re so grateful to Ken for allowing us to use this dynamic image to represent TEDxEastVan. Having been born and brought up in East Vancouver, Ken who is a world-renowned artist, wanted to give East Vancouver a strong symbol to commemorate its dynamic underground culture. Not one to usually submit to open public art calls, he admitted to a local newspaper, “I thought that East Vancouver still gets short shifted. It never really gets its due - especially in terms of public art.”
So the next time you happen to pass by this magnificent symbol, tip your hat to Ken, to the struggles of the early residents of East Vancouver and to its renaissance as host to some of the city’s most exciting neighborhoods.
Image: Kris Krüg
Published by: Diane in Uncategorized