Evergreen Cemetery on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Angelo Saggiomo | Juneau Empire)

Evergreen Cemetery on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Angelo Saggiomo | Juneau Empire)

Evergreen Cemetery focus of new art installation

Artist explains inspiration and process behind 13-piece ‘Solstice’

“Solstice” is a blend of opposites and constants.

Each piece in Averyl Veliz’s 13-piece series of digital collage illustrations printed on aluminum examine downtown Juneau’s Evergreen Cemetery during either the winter or summer solstice.

“I wanted to show that stark contrast,” Veliz said.

“Solstice” was the focus on a Wednesday night Juneau Arts & Humanities Council roundtable meeting. Veliz explained the themes and methods behind the work that was supported by the JAHC and City and Borough of Juneau through an Individual Artist Award of $750.

[Evergreen Cemetery featured in Top Photos of 2018]

Behind the art

The work was inspired by several things, including a closeness to the historic cemetery — Evergreen Cemetery Association was established in 1891 according to the city— that spans generations.

“My family has lived alongside the cemetery since 1948, and it was already considered full,” Veliz said.

While the works do feature headstones, crosses, ravens and lamb memorials that signify the graves of children, “Solstice” is not a morbid collection. It also depicts radiant light, bald eagles and other signs of life, which matches the vibrant downtown cemetery Veliz knows.

“You see people there,” Veliz said. “Kids climb trees. Kids go sledding. There’s a lot of charm about it.”

“Solstice” was also envisioned as a way to tell Juneau’s colonial story in less-than-obvious ways.

“Evergreen Cemetery itself is an analogy of the history of Western Expansion across North America over Indigenous lands and broken treaties,” stated an explanation of the project shared by Veliz.

[Sitka cemetery caretaker talks about repatriating remains]

Veliz’s work was influenced by Eyvind Earle, who is best known for background painting for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” but lurking in the details of the Disney-fied scenes are text from old newspapers and snippets of maps that address colonialism.

Anglicized names for places linger in the dark shadows of pale winter scenes, while Tlingit names for geographical places appear in the sunlight of summer scenes.

“I wanted a lot of maps in my images,” Veliz said. “I wanted it to be a digital collage.”

During the roundtable discussion, Veliz said the newspaper clippings included in the pieces all came from the state’s archives, but to get the Tlingit names of places, she had to create map using Sealaska Heritage Institute resources and by working with X’unei Lance Twitchell, Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages for University of Alaska Southeast.

She then placed those names on an old map in place of English-language names.

“We’re not used to seeing the original names mapped out this way,” Veliz said. “There is no such map that has Tlingit names mapped out this way. I had to make that.”

How it got made

The entirety of “Solstice” was illustrated in Photoshop.

Reference photos of the cemetery were used for inspiration.

“A lot of these trees actually exist,” Veliz said.

[The surprising origin of this adorable art]

Similar effects could have been achieved using Illustrator, but Veliz specifically liked the sharp lines created in Photoshop using a lasso tool.

“I created all of these pieces simultaneously,” Veliz said. “In my mind, they’re not in any particular order.”

Working digitally made the last few pieces in “Solstice” move along slightly more quickly because certain elements could be re-purposed.

“There’s a lot of recycled trees,” Veliz said. “I had a big tree library.”

In total, “Solstice” took about 18 months to complete. That meant it was finished in time to be displayed at The Canvas art gallery downtown last June.

“Over half of the show sold,” Veliz said. “Funnily, all of the summer pieces sold.”

The pieces that sold were aluminum prints of digital files.

The result are pieces that include the specific color pallet chosen by Veliz that also reflect the light and tones of a room.

“I’m really pleased with the aluminum,” Veliz said. “I had never tried illustration on it before.”

Evergreen Cemetery focus of new art installation
Juneau artist Averyl Veliz shows one of the 13 pieces that made up her “Solstice” collection at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, Jan. 15, 2019.

Juneau artist Averyl Veliz shows one of the 13 pieces that made up her “Solstice” collection at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, Jan. 15, 2019.

The Evergreen Cemetery is the focus of Avery Veliz’s “Solstice” collection. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

The Evergreen Cemetery is the focus of Avery Veliz’s “Solstice” collection. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

Michael Ruppert inspects percussion instrumentation that’s part of the setup for the 1928 Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building. Ruppert, co-owner of Rose City Organ Builders in Oregon, spent two days this with with fellow co-owner Christopher Nordwall tuning and restoring the organ to playable condition. The instrument has not been played since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but local officials and musicians are hoping to schedule a lunchtime concert during the next couple of weeks. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Clearing the old pipes

Tuners revive 1928 Kimball organ in State Office Building; lunchtime concerts may resume next week

Michele Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, speaks to about 15 residents who attended a public meeting discussing the final version of the Montana Creek master plan at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
The Montana Creek master plan is finalized — now what?

Management officials emphasize openness to future ideas not included in plan.

Tuckerman Babcock hosts a rally in Soldotna during his campaign for state Senate in October of 2022. On Wednesday he was appointed to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Babcock has a long and controversial political history in Alaska, including illegally demanding hundreds of state employees sign loyalty oaths to Dunleavy or be fired. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuckerman Babcock gets recess appointment to UA board by Dunleavy

Selection of controversial political strategist comes after Legislature’s rejection of Bethany Marcum.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 30, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Christopher Koch, music director of the Juneau Symphony, conducts a rehearsal of the theme from the 1989 “Batman” movie in the auditorium at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé in preparation for two concerts this weekend at the school featuring familiar soundtrack compositions from films with “showdown” plot lines. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A final ‘Showdown’ for Juneau Symphony’s 60th season

Songs from epic confrontation films and an original by Taylor Vidic scheduled this weekend at JDHS.

This image shows the cover of Kate Troll’s new book “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love.” Troll will be hosting a book signing at Hearthside Books on Friday evening. Her event is one of the many First Friday events scheduled for June. (Cirque Press)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

New artistic exhibitions, LGBTQ+ events and more.

Most Read