New Art at The YVR Airport by Haida Artist Reg Davidson


I walk by them every day at work. As I pass the entrance to the skytrain on the left and the Air Canada USA check ins on the right, I can see them only partially on the other side of security. The effect is breathtaking. The red paint on wood seems to almost glow through the glass at you. True, you can only see the bottom of the pole, but it perhaps makes the effect and anticipation that much better. The next time you find yourself on the other side of security at the YVR airport, you know it will be the first thing you look for.

Yesterday my security pass was finally approved and I can now go through security on my own. But up until then if I needed to go through security for any part of my job, it was with one of my coworkers as my escort. So whenever we headed over to the other side I would do my best to make the most of my chance to see Reg Davidson’s new carvings, which were finally installed near the end of 2015.

On January 26th, because I’m now part of the team that takes care of the art at the airport, I had the honour of attending the opening ceremony for Reg Davidson’s new pieces. The ceremony started with a Coast Salish chief welcoming everyone to the territory. Following that was Reg Davidson’s speech and then his brother, Robert Davidson singing and drumming. The ceremony was heartfelt and the perfect welcome for the carvings into their new home at YVR. It was a real treat not only to see Robert Davidson there to support his brother but other artists who had helped Reg in the production of the pole. In his speech Reg pointed out that a commission of a pole allowed him to employ artists for several months in its production.  Roughing out the design on a pole might only take 3 weeks or so, but bringing it to its final stage of completion is months and months more of work even with skilled and seasoned artists. In this video you can experience some of what happens behind the scenes in a commission like this:

This video is a beautiful documentation of where the pieces came from; their origin in the strong artistic tradition of the Haida nation. There are a number of Haida masterpieces on public display around BC and this is just another example of the tradition in a new context. As I listened to the speeches and watched the people celebrating the event, I thought about how art like this, in a public context, brings together not only those who participated in the process, but also different cultures, economic classes and age groups. The process of bringing pieces like this into the public realm is about so much more than just putting on a good show for the visitors to our province. It gives us the opportunity to meet on common ground, celebrate the same milestones and see each other as allies in the creation of a vision that beautifies our province and celebrates the diversity of our cultures and talent. 


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