Photo Essay

Night Rider Visions

Sara Ross, a.k.a Redsara, cycles through the city at night collecting visions for her paintings.

By Amy Walker 21 Apr 2004 |
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Sara Ross travels the streets of Vancouver by bike, she says, because it is the fastest, cheapest and most liberating form of transportation in the city. Riding through the city at night you can feel the wind in your hair and on your face, hear the noises and see the shimmering lights and rainy reflections unfiltered by glass and steel. Result: This series by Ross of acrylic and latex paintings on plywood.

Ross also goes by the name Redsara and calls herself a "celebrationist." What is she celebrating? Community, cycling, media literacy and democracy for starters.  She is a co-director of Pedal Play, the Democratic Poster Project, Artists for Peace and Bikes not Bombs. As well as paintings, her work has included artist's books, wearable silkscreens (patches),  drawings, stickers, mutant chopper bicycles, and community performances.

Redsara says art and activism both involve a critical perspective: seeing the way thing are and acting, making a choice in that moment.

Tracing life's power lines

An important aspect of Redsara's work is the interplay between those things we can change and those we can't. This, she explains, is why power lines frequently show up in her urban landscape paintings. "They are a reminder of the technologies we inherit. We do not choose them but they are part of what we have to work with. From that, I choose to align my actions with my values as best I can. The practice and the theory have to go together. There are many problems outside of my immediate life and I cannot influence those very much. But among the things I can change are the things I buy; my transportation and my relationships with other people."

Some of these paintings will be part of the one-night-only show Cheaper than a One-Night Stand 6 at the Elliot Lewis Gallery on May 1, 2004. Currently, Redsara is working in collaboration with a diverse group of artists designing and painting a mural at the corner of Carrall and Hastings as part of the Carrall Street Greenway Project. She and her partners at Pedal Play have been awarded Canada Council funding toward a community kinetic sculpture project which will be unveiled as a part of Bike Month and the East Van Chopper Fest in June. Her work has also been included in the recently published, Traffic Life: Passionate Tales and Exit Strategies. Check out more of Redsara's art and activism at

Amy Walker is at large editor for The Tyee's Fisheye section.  [Tyee]

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