Crystal Worl Public Art: Elizabeth Peratrovich Mural
In 2018 a good friend of mine Pat Race proposed the idea of painting a mural to commemorate Elizabeth. Since then we worked really hard to manage this project, and jump through all the hurdles to make this mural happen in Juneau. There have been many challenges including the pandemic and natural disasters that have challenged access to materials coming from Texas. I have gotten permission from my clan members and Elizabeth's family members to create this project.
This mural was created to commemorate Elizabeth Kaax̱gal.aat Peratrovich, a Tlingit civil rights activist who worked for equality for Alaska Natives in the 1940s. She advocated and forged a way for the enactment of the State of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, one of the first anti-discrimination laws in the United States. I am proud to honor my fellow clan member of the Lukaax̱.ádi (Sockeye Salmon). She is located on downtown Juneau’s library wall facing the newly expanded dock on Áak'w Kwáan territory.
The mural is 60 feet wide by 25 feet high and is made of 65 panels. The planning of the project took 3 years due to the covid pandemic and flooding in Texas where the paints and adhesive materials are manufactured. The mural was completed in rainy, windy, September, 2021. This mural was developed with community-based support. Including the help of my wonderful apprentices.
The design includes a modernized version of the Lukaax̱.ádix̱ clan crest, the Sockeye Salmon along with Elizabeth’s moiety, the Raven in Tlingit formline design. I superimposed Elizabeth’s iconic portrait of her into the vectored artwork. Once completed I sent the digital file to Mural Provisions in Philadelphia to be digitally printed on polytab (the same material as a parachute!) Fabric. Once the panels were shipped to Juneau my apprentices and I hand painted them to add texture, iridescence, and more detail. Afterwards I had help applying the panels to the wall. This required extensive measuring, operating a lift, trimming each panel, applying messy adhesive gel to each panel, and registration of each panel. The whole project took three years, but in this part we accomplished in three days since the weather was pressing. Needless to say I was a bit stressed out, but I am ever grateful for the pizza and coffee deliveries from so many community members!
There are many supplies and tools necessary to complete this massive 60ft x 25ft mural. I am grateful that I reached out to my community to help with crowd source funding and moral support. I've wanted to see a public art piece commemorating Elizabeth Peratrovich for so long, and it's my honor to contribute my time and work to see this through.
Educating the public about the local Indigenous values, culture, and history is important for Alaskans and visitors alike. I hope that this mural will contribute to the movement to transform Juneau into the Northwest Coast arts capital of the world and will beautify and enhance the downtown Juneau area. Moreover, the mural will foster community partnerships and pride, and, as an attraction, contribute to the local economy. With the world recovering from the COVID pandemic and embracing racial and social justice ideals, artists must also rise to the occasion to tell our history and our stories. Let's make Juneau colorful and show our pride of our history, on Áak'w Kwáan territory.