A popular Alaska company with roots in Homer is lending a helping hand to families faced with unprecedented amounts of time at home and inside in the growing wake of the novel coronavirus, and its co-founders are doing it through art.
Emma Teal Laukitis and Claire Neaton are the Salmon Sisters, commercial fishermen who also own the clothing and Alaska goods store that donates 1% of its net profit to the Food Bank of Alaska. They grew up in the Aleutian Islands before moving to Homer, where their flagship brick and mortar store is located on Ocean Drive. Their telltale designs can be seen on most XtraTufs traipsing through town — before Alaska was mandated to shelter in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, that is.
On March 19, the sisters launched a seemingly simple and artistic way for families and individuals to cope with copious amounts of time indoors while social distancing: coloring pages. Laukitis and Neaton peered back into their archives and found designs of fireweed and a collection of coastal marine life, and reformatted them into printable coloring pages for the public, Laukitis said in an email. The pages are free and can be downloaded on the Salmon Sisters website.
“We posted the coloring pages because we know how many people are at home right now, working and homeschooling their kids, and wanting fun and delightful things to do together,” Laukitis wrote. “… It has been so fun to see photos of all of the finished coloring pages by kids and adults.”
Laukitis did the artwork for the pages. She explained that she and Neaton were homeschooled as children, so they know a thing or two about entertaining themselves. Once they moved to Homer and attended alternative schools there, Laukitis said, they had curriculums that emphasized creativity and play.
“Our ‘curriculum’ at home was a lot of reading, a lot of drawing and painting and creative projects,” she wrote. “Otherwise, we were outside discovering what was around us — on the beach, in the ocean, on the hills and tundra and mountains around our house. Making art and experiencing the outdoors has always gone hand in hand for us, as it’s a way to understand what you observe and experience more deeply. Art is a great way for kids to see the beauty around them and express themselves.”
Laukitis said the sisters recognized that, in this time of social distancing when schools are closed and many parents are now working from home, families are having to readjust. They’re having to learn to share the same space more than they used to.
“We wanted to share something that was free and easy to interact with, that parents and adults could do together, that can be hung up on the wall to brighten a room, that sparks the imagination and brings joy in this new space and time that we’re all experiencing together,” Laukitis wrote.
One of the printable coloring pages resembles a placemat, with a border around the edges and a blank center. Across the top, the words “If I lived in the sea I would be…” invite the colorer to use their imagination and create their own scene.
The Salmon Sisters also recently published a cookbook — “Salmon Sisters: Fishing, Feasting and Living in Alaska.” Laukitis said the book contains many simple and delicious recipes that Alaskans may find useful with all this new time at home. The cookbook is also available on the Salmon Sisters website, and everywhere books are sold.
“We hope to continue to share recipes and art and activities that people can learn from and make at home,” Laukitis wrote.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.