Juneau business showcases diverse artists’ work in postcard contest

Kindred Post, a post office, gift shop and gathering space in downtown Juneau, has selected 10 art submissions to print on 1,000 postcards. The selections are from around the state, and from a diversity of artists.

“They Are Always With Us” by Rob Roys (Courtesy of Kindred Post)

It does not take long to realize Kindred Post is a little different from the average post office. The store’s sidewalk sandwich board reads: stamps, boxes, shipping services, handmade and Alaskan made gifts and good vibes. An image of a woman wearing an American flag hijab that reads “We The People” is in the storefront, and just inside is a hoodie that reads “Social Justice Hustle.”

“So when we first started Kindred Post I’d had this dream to fill it with local art,” said artist and writer Christy Namee Eriksen has owned the business for 3 years.

Kindred Post is not your average post office. (Photo by Scott Burton)

Beyond post officey stuff, it’s known for selling artful jewelry, happening First Friday art gatherings and “Tiny Post Office” concerts. Still,

“People come here every day to buy postcard stamps and they’re always looking for postcards,” said Eriksen.

Eriksen had already tapped some of Juneau’s usual suspects for art, so a contest seemed in order. Two hundred and fifty submissions came in between July and August.

Among the 10 winners is Tom Chung, who teaches art at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“The image is of myself riding shirtless on this moose in front of the backdrop of an Alaskan wilderness,” Chung said.

"Moose Rider" by Thomas Chung

“Moose Rider” by Thomas Chung (Courtesy Kindred Post)

“I don’t see representations very often of Asian males, and so I use myself because it’s a little bit of an act of rebelling and I guess that I believe I live in a culture that says I am not desirable or not beautiful, and so I place myself in these sort of images of desirability or masculinity to kind of rebel against that,” said Chung.

Crystal Worl is a Juneau-based mixed media artist and business owner that works in paint and fashion design. Her piece, “White Raven,” is also among the winners.

“I like to acknowledge my Tlingit side using formline, and then I also like to acknowledge my Athabascan side through putting beadwork, floral patterns in my paintings,” said Worl.

“This one has a seaweed pattern that looks like a growing stem. …. There’s a moon below Raven. You get the feeling that you’re looking up into the sky at Raven, and this is coming down and it feels also like you’re under water,” said Worl.

Additional winning images include a humpback whale in watercolor, a fox under the aurora, an image of a hand-embroidered umbrella. Some of the winning artists’ names are recognizable, some not — including Zoey Lam’s marker drawing of a large green dinosaur-like beast sort of hugging the Kindred Post store.

"Kaiju (heart symbol) Kindred Post"

“Kaiju (heart symbol) Kindred Post” by Zoey Lam (Courtesy Kindred Post)

Having a diversity of artists is important to store owner Eriksen who studied social justice in college and co-founded a poetry slam in Juneau that is known for inclusiveness and empowering voice.

Kindred Post owner Christy Namee Eriksen. (Photo by Scott Burton/KTOO)

“I had a equity clause built into the competition. So we wanted to prioritize artists who have otherwise have had social marginalization, and maybe not have had as much access to artistic opportunities as others,” said Eriksen.

Eriksen, her staff and other community members judged.

“So we would give preference to artists who self-identified as either a woman, LGBTQ, a person of color, or an indigenous person, artists who are experiencing a developmental disability, or just a disability,” said Eriksen.

“I thought that was really great, I noticed that,” said Chung. “And we were allowed to write a little comment with our submission and I wrote I am a gay person of color that also lives with a disability. And it’s not just I guess to give a leg up to people that might need a little more encouraging, but also being inclusive to all sorts of diversity it expands the range of viewpoints that can be shared.”

I asked Eriksen why social justice and equity are important, and a part of her business.

“Our success is tied to the success of our neighborhood, of our city, of our community,” Eriksen said. “And so if you have that type of commitment to the place or the people that you belong to, then the question for me would be why would you not be committed to social justice? Why would you not want to raise up and work towards equality for all of its members?”

One thousand of the printed cards will be released at Kindred Post on Oct. 1.

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