Exploring the Artistic Worlds of Nicholas Galanin

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / Kill The Indian, Save The Man 14" x 19." Photographic series & wood carving, 2016

A photo gallery of the works of artist Nicholas Galanin; catch them in person at any one of the five exhibits coming up.

Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangax̂) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work offers perspective rooted in connection to land and an intentionally broad engagement with contemporary culture. For over a decade, Galanin has been embedding incisive observation into his work, investigating and expanding intersections of culture and concept in form, image and sound. Galanin’s works embody critical thought. They are vessels of knowledge, culture and technology – inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic.

Galanin’s concepts determine his materials and processes. His practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists, including an ongoing collaboration with his brother and fellow artist Jerrod Galanin, under the moniker Leonard Getinthecar. He is a member of two artist collectives: Black Constellation and Winter Count.

The substance and execution of his work engages past, present and future. Through two- and three-dimensional works, and time-based media, Galanin encourages reflection on cultural amnesia that actively obscures collective memory and acquisition of knowledge. Galanin creates sounds moving in time and animals fixed in space. Splintering apart replica carvings, he destroys the outputs of commodified culture, rearranging the pieces to reflect its nefarious effects. He creates petroglyphs in sidewalks and coastal rock, masks cut from books, ceramic arrows in flight, and repurposes handcuffs, which he engraves, formerly used to remove indigenous children from their families, naming them children’s bracelets.

Galanin has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers. He earned his BFA at London Guildhall University in Jewelry Design, and his MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts at Massey University in New Zealand. Galanin lives and works in Sitka, Alaska.

Galanin states:

Culture cannot be contained as it unfolds. My art enters this stream at many different points, looking backwards, looking forwards, generating its own sound and motion. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit & Unangax̂ creativity and contribute to this wealthy conversation through active curiosity. There is no room in this exploration for the tired prescriptions of the “Indian Art World” and its institutions. Through creating I assert my freedom.

Concepts drive my medium. I draw upon a wide range of indigenous technologies and global materials when exploring an idea. Adaptation and resistance, lies and exaggeration, dreams, memories and poetic views of daily life–these themes recur in my work, taking form through sound, texture, and image. Inert objects spring back to life; kitsch is reclaimed as cultural renewal; dancers merge ritual and rap. I am most comfortable not knowing what form my next idea will take, a boundless creative path of concept-based motion.

Upcoming shows featuring Galanin’s work include a solo show at Peters Projects in Santa Fe, through September 2; Live in the Planetarium: Indian Agent, a music and performance piece at the Anchorage Museum on September 1; participation in three group shows: Unsettled, at the Nevada Museum of Art, August 26 – January 21, 2018, Water Line: A Creative Exchange at the Center for Visual Art at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, though October 21, and Connective Tissue: New Approaches to Fiber in Contemporary Art at the Institute of American Indian Arts, through January 21, 2018.

An upcoming monograph on Galanin’s work will soon be published via minor matters.

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin & Merritt Johnson / Creation with her children. Creation is carving her own face out of necessity, because it is within her power, and because it is her nature. She has cut open and is shedding the garments of 17th century Europe, revealing a more contemporary covering.

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / God Complex, 2015 Ceramic, 6′ x 6′

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / Eagle Bracelet Repoussé, chasing and engraving. 2″ x 8.” Copper Eagle Bracelet with acrylic highlights, 2012

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / I Think it Goes Like This Wood, Paint Dimensions Variable, 2012

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / Indian Children’s Bracelet, Hand-engraved iron. 3 x 8 x ½ in., 2014.

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / The American Dream Is Alie And Well. US Flag, felt, .50 Cal Ammunition, Foam, Gold Leaf, Plastic, 7ft x 7ft x 9in, 2012

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / The Imaginary Indian Paint. Wood, Wallpaper 18’x 12,” 2016

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / We Dreamt Deaf Polar bear. Taxidermy 120″ x 80″ x 42,” 2015

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / What Have We Become? Vol. 5. Paper- 1000 pages containing text from Under Mount Saint Elias 5’’ x 9’’ x 4,’’ 2006

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / White Carver, 2016, Mixed media

Courtesy Nicholas Galanin / Kill The Indian, Save The Man 14″ x 19.” Photographic series & wood carving, 2016