Hopping with Delight


Hopping with delight after a banner moment
By: Simon Fuller
Winnipeg Free Press – February 23, 2011

Heather Zimmerman’s hare banner is displayed throughout Winnipeg’s Chinatown. (SIMON FULLER)

Heather Zimmerman didn’t know 2011 was going to be quite such a banner year.

The Grant Park resident was recently chosen as the winner of the Chinatown Poster Competition, which is held annually to coincide with the start of the Chinese New Year.

The contest is sponsored by the Downtown BIZ and the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre.

Zimmerman, 19, is a second year graphic design student at Red River College. Her winning design is now mounted on a pole just down the street from the Princess Street-based college in Winnipeg’s Chinatown.

She said her banner design was inspired by the ancient Chinese practice of paper cuts.

“Paper cutting was originally seen in sacred rituals and, over time, became a more popular means of decoration to spice up celebratory events,” Zimmerman said.

She added that red is a celebrated colour in Chinese culture, as it symbolizes good fortune.

“My design used a lot of red, which gives it boldness and intricacy against a backdrop of blue, which portrays calm and relaxation,” Zimmerman said.

Based on lunar cycles, the Chinese calendar also names each year after an animal. This year it’s the Year of the Rabbit, although the Chinese community also uses the term hare interchangeably.

Zimmerman was hopping with excitement when she found out she’d beat out 47 other entrants — partly because she’s always felt a connection with Winnipeg’s Chinese community.

“I was ecstatic when I found out,” said Zimmerman, who hopes to own her own graphic design company one day. “It’s exciting that people will pass by my banner every day and that it might brighten someone’s day for a few moments.”

“When I was younger, I used to come to Chinatown and check out the stores and events and watch the dances with dragons, so this is great,” she added.

Aside from some personal satisfaction, Zimmerman also received an honorarium of $400; while the same amount went to the graphic design department for its second year open house.

Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown BIZ, said Zimmerman’s design breaks the mould compared to previous winners.

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised seeing this year’s design,” Grande said.

“It’s a departure from what we have selected in the past, so I think it will make quite a splash in Chinatown. These banners are a great way to showcase our local talent and create interest in this unique district.”

Zimmermann’s design was selected because it was both original and eye-catching, while it also captured the refinement, sophistication and calm demeanour of the hare, Grande said.