Nicholas Galanin’s (Tlingit/Unangax) 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.
His works embody critical thought. They are vessels of knowledge, culture and technology – inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic. He engages past, present and future – through two and three dimensional works and time-based media – exposing intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge. This includes creating images and sound moving in time and animals fixed in space. He splinters tourist industry replica carvings into pieces, destroying commodification of culture and evidencing the damage. His carving practice includes cultural customary objects, petroglyphs in sidewalks and coastal rock, masks cut from anthropological texts, and engraving handcuffs used to remove Indigenous children from their families.
Beyond the walls of his studio, Galanin designs and fabricates ceramic riot gear, arrows in flight, and curio masks covered in delftware patterns, employing materials and processes to expand and forward dialogue on what artistic production is and how it can be used to envision possibility. His concepts determine his materials and processes. His practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists. Galanin apprenticed with master carvers and jewellers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University in Jewellery Design and his MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts at Massey University in New Zealand. He lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska.