Murals, Countermurals, and Visual Sovereignty in Juneau, Alaska’s Public Art

Ben Bridges (Indiana University)

Overlooking the Gastineau Channel in downtown Juneau are two murals. The first depicts a few dozen passengers on a 19th-century steamship while the second reveals a bold and colorful visualization of Tlingit civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich. In this paper, I explore the recently installed Peratrovich mural as a countermonument to the already present colonialist history built into the landscape. Based on conversations with the artist and observations of Juneau’s art scene, I examine the potential of public art to, on one hand, exclude, obscure, or favor certain voices and, on the other, include, advocate for, and democratize marginalized histories.

Part of 07-13 Native American Expressive Cultures, Saturday, October 15, 8:30 am–10:00 am