As part of the recent City and Borough of Juneau Downtown Street Improvements Project, the intersection of Front Street and Seward Street now incorporates Tlingít formline into its design.
Rico Worl, who designed it, explains his inspiration in a post on the city’s website:
“The design originated while spending a Saturday afternoon at the intersection. Throughout the day there was nonstop foot traffic. I think it may be one of the most well walked local crossroads. There was nonstop people walking through, people stopping and visiting, singing, yelling; it was a very lively corner for locals.
“The lines flow through the intersection in various directions representing the concept of water flowing, giving the feeling of currents. The fish stamps [that are embedded in the concrete sidewalk] (color will be added later) represent the community members traveling through town. The aerial view photo shows the formline-esque lines. It draws from the elements of formline, which explore the ideas of proportion and flowing weights of lines.
“The salmon medallion [in the northwest corner] is done by Crystal Worl. The lettering around it is done by Christy Namee Eriksen. The metal cutting was done by Adam Dimmitt. The design speaks to the concept of Latseen, the strength of mind, body, and spirit. The core cultural value medallions are a collection of art pieces that speak to the depth of relationship between Tlingít people and the landscape.”
The website gave thanks to Rico, Crystal, Christy and Adam for the amazing work. Also, thanks to CBC Construction, Inc., Southeast Earthmovers, Compass Construction and DOWL for construction and design. An aerial photo of the intersection was taken by Josh McGraw.
Note, this isn’t the first time Tlingít formline has been part of a street or sidewalk design in Southeast Alaska. When the City and Borough of Sitka built the Sitka Sea Walk in 2013, they asked Tlingít carver Tommy Joseph to help incorporate some formline designs into the project.
Incorporating cultural designs into a project can help give tribal and other groups pride and buy-in to a new construction project. But they should only be done after consulting with the tribe or other group to prevent cultural appropriation.