Arts·COVID Residencies

Giant pigeons are Emmie Tsumura's gesture of gratitude for frontline workers

With street art currently a thing of the past (or future), Emmie Tsumura has found safe ways to install her work in the public eye — in the form of massive pigeons.

'This will serve as a reminder to how important essential workers are and how grateful we were'

Giant pigeons are Emmie Tsumura's gesture of gratitude for frontline workers

CBC Arts

10 months ago
2:53
With street art currently a thing of the past (or future), Emmie Tsumura has found safe ways to install her work in the public eye — in the form of massive pigeons. 2:53

In our self-shot video series COVID Residencies, we're checking out how artists are adapting their practices in isolation, whether it's diving into different processes or getting lost in their sketchbooks.

To create her larger-than-life birds, illustrator and visual artist Emmie Tsumura starts with a drawing. Then, she prints them at monstrous scale, laminates them, tapes the pieces together, and heads out with the materials she needs to lash them to a chain link fence. Those materials also include gloves and a mask, since putting her work up involves being outdoors.

That's a lot of labour to create a single piece — but it's worth it to Tsumura, who is creating her giant pigeons as a thank you to the grocery store clerks and other frontline workers keeping things running while we all social distance.

(Emmie Tsumura)

In this video, you'll follow Tsumura through the process as she heads to Toronto's east end to install her latest pigeon. And, she says, "I hope that maybe at some point in the future, when the crisis is over, that when people walk around and see pigeons, it might be a visual reminder of how grateful we were for essential workers at this time and how important they continue to be in our society."

Follow Emmie Tsumura here and keep a lookout for the stories we're bringing you from other artists in isolation as part of COVID Residencies. Stay safe, friends!

(Emmie Tsumura)

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

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