Museum Ludwig X Terra Foundation Blog

January 18, 2019

Present Perfect: Nicholas Galanin

Present Perfect presents young, contemporary artists from the United States whose art engages with the different subjects and themes explored here on the blog. It is very important to me that we don’t just view history and art history as past but are aware that it informs the present and future and plays a large role who we are today – individually and collectively.


Nicholas Galanin, The American Deam is Alie and Well (2012), US Flag, felt, .50 cal ammunition, foam, gold leaf, plastic, 7ft x 7ft x 9in.

Nicholas Galanin (born 1979, in Sitka, Alaska|Tlingit/ Unangax̂) sees his work as the connective tissue between two cultures, their past and their present. After studying jewelry design at London’s Guildhall University and completing a masters’ degree in indigenous visual arts at Massey University in New Zealand, Galanin developed a visual language that combines contemporary and traditional tools and methods of expression. Culture, knowledge, technology, and identity are recurring themes in his work. In his own words:

“Culture is rooted in connection to land; like land, culture cannot be contained. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit & Unangax̂ creative production and knowledge connected to the land I belong to. From this perspective, I engage across cultures with contemporary conditions. My process of creation is a constant pursuit of freedom and vision for the present and future. Using Indigenous and non-Indigenous technologies and materials I resist romanticization, categorization and limitation. I use my work to explore adaptation, resilience, survival, active cultural amnesia, dream, memory, cultural resurgence, connection to and disconnection from the land.”

See more of Galanin’s work here and you can listen to an interview with him here. And have a look at other episodes the Broken Boxes podcast, created by Ginger Dunhill (Hawaiian) if you want to know more about Native American art and artists in the 21stcentury.

Other wonderful artists to check out are Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara/Lakota), Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tualip) and Project 562 or the art collective Postcommodity.

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