Streets of Hope: A Conversation with Artist, Faris Nakamura

As part of the National Arts Council’s #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, Streets of Hope brings the streets to life with banners featuring artworks by 153 homegrown artists. Launched in June 2020, the project is one of the largest presentations of work by local artists, bringing together practitioners across generations, backgrounds and mediums in full force.

The street banners can now be seen along St. Andrew’s Road, Fullerton Road, Esplanade Drive, Stamford Road, and many more, as well as on the National Arts Council and Gillman Barracks websites. Look out for works by the likes of Zul Othman (ZERO), Robert Zhao, Rizman Putra, Cultural Medallion recipient Han Sai Por, and our very own IMPART Awards winners, Khairullah Rahim, Priyageetha Dia, Faris Nakamura and Genevieve Chua.

In this post, we speak with IMPART Award 2020 winner Faris Nakamura about what brings him hope, delving deeper into the meaning behind the artwork he selected for his banner, the role of artists in the community and his experience of applying for the IMPART Awards.

Faris Nakamura portrait
Source: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Congratulations on being one of the featured artists in Streets of Hope! What is something that brings you hope?

FN: Thank you so much! It feels great to be a part of such a wonderful initiative.

What brings me hope is witnessing and experiencing acts of unconditional love, kindness and compassion. Also, people who pursue their dreams with a passionate purpose to help make the world a better place.

Tell us more about the artwork featured on your banner, Forlorn Atmosphere of A Place, Bustling and Thriving. What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing it?

FN: I was thinking about the pandemic that hit us and how it has changed the way we live out our daily lives. The best, safest thing to do right now is to stay home and keep our distance from each other, and I wanted to encourage people to do that. Forlorn Atmosphere of A Place, Bustling and Thriving depicts an empty, vacant space yet radiates a sense of hope at the same time, with light shining through the space. My message to the audience is to continue to be hopeful and look forward to all the good that would arise from us keeping our distance from each other and staying indoors. And, you’d be surprised how unlonely being alone can be.

Left image: Forlorn Atmosphere of A Place, Bustling and Thriving, Faris Nakamura

Right image: Forlorn Atmosphere of A Place, Bustling and Thriving (Detail) , Faris Nakamura

Streets of Hope is a celebration of creativity meant to enliven the streets of Singapore and lift peoples’ spirits. What role do you think artists play in the community?

FN: Artists make a visual (and other sensory) record of the events happening around us, people and places. This also gives forms to feelings, thoughts and other forces like spirituality. The world would be rather silent and we would be with blank pieces of paper and empty walls without artists.

What other projects have you been up to since winning the IMPART Awards in January? How has the experience been for you?

FN: Besides ‘Streets of Hope’, I was busy with another project by Plural Art, in collaboration with NAC, to respond to cultural sites in Singapore which people have been unable to visit due to pandemic movement restrictions. The work is now live on Plural Art’s website, and will also be included in the microsite Plural Art is building, scheduled to be launched in August. And, I completed a new series of works right before circuit breaker happened. They were supposed to be a part of a show but due to gallery closure during the circuit breaker, they went to direct sales. Now, I am focusing on a project with Facebook for their