‘Solstice’ is a dialogue on Juneau’s colonial story as expressed by our furthest and closest points to the sun, with all of the pieces taking place in Evergreen Cemetery. Ravens, crosses, tombstones, pathways, maps, sun rays, and shadows create natural metaphors of death and rebirth, oppression and resistance, and life paths in between.
To a great degree, these pieces created themselves. Naturally, I had the concept, location, and style in mind, but I didn’t have any idea as to what shape the pieces would take until they decided that they were finished. This is quite a departure from my typical thought process, where I meticulously plan out sketches ahead of time with a specific image in mind. I simultaneously worked on all 13 pieces of the series to maintain continuity between them. Each piece in the series is packed full of symbolism that can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, depending on the viewer’s Truth.
Stylistically, these pieces are inspired by Eyvind Earle. He is most famous for his background paintings in the Disney animated feature, ‘Sleeping Beauty’. (Fun fact, cemetery comes from Greek to mean sleeping chamber.) Not only do I admire his style, but I wanted to play with art that we’ve been strongly influenced to blindly accept as being aesthetically pleasing to draw the viewer in, only to reveal something darker and sinister. This tension forces the viewer to acknowledge that reality is not as idealistic as it appears. Perhaps it’s a slightly sadistic approach to take as an artist, but hopefully you, the Viewer, can find intrigue within. Maybe even humor.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ was released in 1959, and the Juneau Federal Building was completed in 1962. By 1968, much of what was left of the Aak’w Kwaan’s summer fishing camp along Dzantik’i Héeni just blocks away was completely destroyed and filled in with mine tailings. Gentrified white middle-class neighborhoods quickly took over in the form of the already encroaching Casey Shattuck “Flats” neighborhood to Evergreen Cemetery’s south and the Evergreen and Behrends neighborhoods to its north. Evergreen Cemetery itself is an analogy of the history of Western Expansion across North America over Indigenous lands and broken treaties.
10% of sales will be donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a nonprofit organization and provides training and other opportunities directly to artists in addition to offering a variety of art, education, Native language, culture and research programs. Sealaska Heritage’s goals are to promote cultural diversity and cross-culturally understanding through public services and events.
Thank You’s and Reference
· X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell
Gunalchéesh for sharing your knowledge of the proper Tlingit place names for the downtown map in the summer images.
· 'Haa Léelk'w Hás Aaní Saax'ú; Our Grandparent’s Names on the Land.’ Edited by Thomas F. Thorton. SHI, Juneau, AK 2007
· The staff at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections
They assisted me in digging up the ‘Juneau City Mining Record’ articles and early survey maps pertaining to the Ridge and Evergreen Cemeteries. The News clippings are collaged throughout the series.
· Patsy Popejoy Nordmark (my mom)
She has been telling me stories of Evergreen Cemetery since I was a child. She grew up in a house at the edge of the cemetery in the 1940’s and 50’s.
- My husband and children for their love and support.
This project is supported in part by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council and the City & Borough of Juneau.