Alaska Native Artists Re-Indigenize Downtown Anchorage Streetscape
August 09, 2022
Two murals planned by community leaders and created by Alaska Native artists will transform the face of downtown Anchorage this Fall with imagery that highlights Indigenous culture and inclusivity. The first mural, located on G Street on the east side of the RIM Architecture building, will be painted by Tlingit, Athabaskan, Yup'ik and Filipino artist Crystal Worl. The second mural, located on The Kobuk coffee and gift shop on 5th Ave in downtown Anchorage, will be painted by Yup’ik and Inupiaq artist Drew Michael.
The G Street mural will pay homage to several different Alaska Native tribes, highlighting Anchorage as a gathering place. Says Worl: “There's a great diversity of tribes that live and work and coexist in Anchorage today. And so, I wanted to create a piece that feels significant to a lot of people in Anchorage.”
Michael’s mural, inspired by a traditional Yup’ik masks, but with Inupiaq influences, celebrates the rich cultural landscape of the contemporary North. Says Michael: “I wanted to bring a lot of color to downtown, and I think that influenced this particular piece. Part of the story of the Native people of Alaska is thinking about how everything has energy. Looking into the eyes of a mask, you can see how people lived.”
By centering the Indigenous perspective, both murals help to reimagine publics spaces and challenge the ways art and history have been presented on the traditional homelands of Alaska Native peoples. Says muralist and Alaska Pacific University Project Manager James Temte, “The heart of these projects is inclusivity. Anchorage is a largest Native village in Alaska, and this is a celebration of different Alaska Native groups.”
Worl’s mural is presented through a partnership between the Anchorage Museum, Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Alaska Pacific University, Roadmap for a Vital and Safe Anchorage, building owners Barbara and Larry Cash, and SALT, LLC. Michael’s mural is presented in collaboration with the Anchorage Museum, Anchorage Downtown Partnership, and The Kobuk.
Production on both murals begins early August with public viewing events planned in the fall. Follow the Anchorage Museum on social media for updates images of the murals in progress.
Image: A draft rendering of Worl's upcoming G Street mural.