PEABODY — For millions of Filipinos living around the world, a balikbayan box is one way they can connect back to their roots. Filled with toiletries and other non-perishable items, these large cardboard boxes are shipped to family members back home in the Philippines.
“The only part of you that gets to go back home is through that box,” says local artist and illustrator Anna Dugan, who is half Filipino on her mother’s side.
During the 36th annual Peabody International Festival this Sunday, Dugan will paint a mural on the sides of these balikbayan boxes. She’ll also be selling customized stickers, prints, tote bags and clothing items inspired by her Filipino heritage at her booth titled, Anna Did A Thing.
Dugan joins 40 other artisan vendors participating in this year’s festival, featuring works from around the world.
Growing up in a heavily influenced Filipino-American household, she credits much of her artistic influence to her family’s identity and culture. As a daughter of an immigrant, the 29-year-old artist says there’s little representation of Filipino heritage on the East Coast. And she hopes to change that.
“If I can’t find it, I’ll create it,” said Dugan, adding how she wants to use her art to educate others and “humanize the immigrant experience.”
The festival, she says, is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Her brand, “Anna Did A Thing,” originally began as an inside joke among her friends. “I always have my hands working on something,” added Dugan, a UMass Lowell Art & Design graduate. Using her iPad to create digital illustrations, the Salem-based artist also sells her designs through her online shop.
Describing herself as a tactile artist, she first began working with chalk before transitioning into painting and later digital illustrations. Dugan designed a series of chalk signs for Gulu-Gulu…