Alaska artist Nicholas Galanin challenges the appropriation of Native cultures in his latest exhibition
January 28, 2016
‘Kill the Indian, Save the Man’ is on view Feb. 5 through April 10 at the Anchorage Museum
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – “The legacy of human rights violations experienced by First Nations people still reverberate today,” said artist Nicholas Galanin, whose solo exhibition “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” explores this topic and more when it opens Feb. 5 at the Anchorage Museum.
Galanin was named one of the top Native American artists whose work redefines what it means to be American by the online news outlet Mic. "Nothing about what I do is a new perspective on Americanness," Galanin told Mic. His work, he said, "comes from a place that has known 'America' before 'America' decided to call this land 'America.' "
Born in Sitka, Alaska, Galanin (Tlingit/Unangax) has trained in traditional as well as contemporary approaches to art. Adaptation and resistance, exaggeration and lies, dreams and memories are recurring themes in Galanin’s work. He draws upon a wide range of Indigenous technologies and global materials when exploring ideas through his art. “His work challenges the appropriation of Native culture and depiction of Indigenous peoples in popular culture,” wrote Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale in the book Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City.
Gyasi Ross wrote in Indian Country Today Media Network that Galanin is “a throwback to back before Natives were taught that we should be cautious or scared to take on an enemy against huge odds — unafraid. Decolonized.”
Galanin’s exhibition at the Anchorage Museum “unites respect, relationship and a homage to our communities, a harmony with land and environment, and a history of survival through sculptural installation, sound, moving image, performance, collaboration and adornment,” said Galanin in an artist statement. “These works dissect, reconnect and map the real history of settler violence as experienced by First Nations peoples.”
“Kill the Indian, Save the Man” includes collaborations with other artists, including Jerrod Galanin under the pseudonym Leonard Getinthecar, and No Pigs In Paradise with Nep Sidhu.
Sidhu said No Pigs In Paradise “speaks to an understanding of the specific histories of First Nations’ women and a clear understanding of women as essential to the restoration of First Nations’ societies.”
A Supple Plunder, by Leonard Getinthecar, honors twelve Unangan men who were bound together and shot with one bullet, which lodged in the ninth man.
“The works contained within this exhibition push forward long-standing conversations, artistic and discursive, within First Nation communities and amongst their allies about the most efficacious ways to restore harmony and balance,” said Galanin.
The Patricia B. Wolf Solo Exhibition Series is presented with generous support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and the Anchorage Museum Foundation’s Alaska Airlines Silver Anniversary Fund.
Image: Nicholas Galanin "Your Inane Perspective: Haa Aaní Haa Kusteeyíx̱ Sitee (Our Land is Our Life)," digital photograph, 2015, courtesy of the artist.
Artist on the Floor
6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, Anchorage Museum
Nicholas Galanin will be in the gallery during the opening reception of his solo exhibition on First Friday. Galanin offers behind-the-scenes information about his work and is available to answer questions and meet with museum visitors. Also opening Feb. 5 are “Stick and Puck: Michael Conti Solo Exhibition” and the “All-Alaska Biennial” exhibition. Free.
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state. The museum’s mission is to connect people, expand perspectives and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. Learn more at anchoragemuseum.org.