Nicholas Galanin / Yéil Ya-Tseen

Tlingit / Unangax̂

Born 1979

Nicholas Galanin’s work engages contemporary culture from his perspective rooted in connection to land. He embeds incisive observation into his work, investigating intersections of culture and concept in form, image, and sound. Galanin's works embody critical thought as vessels of knowledge, culture and technology - inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic. Galanin engages past, present, and future to expose intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge. His works critique commodification of culture, while contributing to the continuum of Tlingit art. Galanin employs materials and processes that expand dialogue on Indigenous artistic production, and how culture can be carried. His work is in numerous public and private collections and exhibited worldwide. Galanin apprenticed with master carvers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University and his MFA at Massey University. He lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska.

Photograph of "Never Forget." Iron, Paint, Steel, 2021, 59’ 4” x 360’ 7”. Indigenous lands and Indigenous communities remain unique, resilient, complex and beautiful – despite over 500 years of occupation by violent settler states. Never Forget refuses to legitimize settler occupation, and reframes a word of generic reduction to call for collective action. It is a monumental invitation to landowners to seek out Indigenous leadership for land relationships, to center Indigenous knowledge in creating sustainable practices, to contribute to real rent initiatives, and to transfer land titles and rights to Indigenous nations and communities. Governance of land titles, water rights, and other “resources” led and protected by Indigenous nations on their traditional territories benefits all people by ensuring sustainability and regeneration through specific knowledge gained since time immemorial. As Indigenous people we are responsible to the land we come from, to care for and protect it—for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, and for all life who would call this land home. Never Forget marks what is. It is also a beacon for the future. We acknowledge the Cahuilla People as the original stewards of the land on which Desert X takes place. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with the Indigenous people in this place. We pay our respect to the Cahuilla People, past, present and emerging, who have been here since time immemorial.