Nicholas Galanin’s work is rooted in his perspective as an Indigenous man, deeply connected to the land and his Tlingit/Unangax culture. Over the past two decades, Galanin has worked across media, materials, and processes, engaging past, present, and future to expose widespread misappropriation and commodification of Indigenous visual culture, the impact of colonialism, intentionally obscured collective memory, and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge. His practice, encompassing sculpture, installation, photography, video, performance, printmaking and textile-based works, unites traditional and contemporary processes and materials to reclaim narrative and creative agency, and contribute to the continuum of Tlingit art within an ever-evolving contemporary Indigenous practice. His exhibition at the Van Every/Smith Galleries, Dreaming in English, includes an installation of the same title that speaks directly to the forced removal and relocation of Indigenous children from the reservation into residential “schools.” These so-called “schools” were not focused on education but rather on assimilation; the intent was to eradicate both culture and spirit.
In 2020, Galanin excavated the shape of the shadow of the Capt. James Cooke statue in Hyde Park for the Biennale of Sydney, examining the effects of colonization on land, critiquing anthropological bias, and ultimately suggesting the burial of the statue and others like it. In 2021, he created a replica of the Hollywood sign for the Desert X Biennial in Palm Springs CA, which reads INDIAN LAND, directly advocating for and supporting the Land back and real rent initiatives. This fall, Galanin will begin work on a temporary outdoor project for Davidson College’s campus.
Galanin holds a BFA from London Guildhall University in Jewelry Design, an MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts from Massey University in New Zealand, and has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers in his community of Sitka, Alaska. His work has been exhibited widely, including in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Native American Pavilion during the 2017 Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy; 2019 Honolulu Biennial, Honolulu, Hawaii; Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska; and the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ, among many others. As part of the group exhibition, Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, Galanin’s work traveled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, and Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA), Santa Fe, NM. His work is included in numerous public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Denver Art Museum, CO; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Portland Art Museum, OR; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV; and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, among others. Galanin lives and works with his family on Tlingit Aani, Sitka, Alaska. He is represented by Peter Blum Gallery, New York, NY and his music has been released by Sub Pop Records, Seattle, WA, under the name Ya Tseen.