Examining the complexities of contemporary Indigenous identity, culture, and representation, Nicholas Galanin works from his experience as a Tlingit artist. Embedding incisive observation and reflection into his oftentimes provocative work, he aims to redress the widespread misappropriation of Indigenous visual culture, the impact of colonialism, as well as collective amnesia. Galanin reclaims narrative and creative agency, while demonstrating contemporary Indigenous art as a continually evolving practice. As he describes: “My process of creation is a constant pursuit of freedom and vision for the present and future. I use my work to explore adaptation, resilience, survival, dream, memory, cultural resurgence, and connection and disconnection to the land.” Galanin unites both traditional and contemporary practices, creating a synthesis of elements in order to navigate “the politics of cultural representation.” Speaking through multiple visual, sonic, and tactile languages, his concepts determine his processes, which include sculpture, installation, photography, video, performance, and textile-based work. This contemporary practice builds upon an Indigenous artistic continuum while celebrating the culture and its people; Galanin contributes urgent criticality and vision through resonant and layered works.
Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, Alaska) lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska. He earned his BFA at London Guildhall University (2003), his MFA at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand (2007), and he has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers. Galanin participated in the Native American Pavilion during the Venice Biennale (2017), in the Whitney Biennial (2019), and the Honolulu Biennial (2019). He has been invited to participate in the Biennale of Sydney (2020). Galanin’s work is in permanent collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Denver Art Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Anchorage Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, among others.