Indigenous artist brings his artistic philosophy to campus

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Collegian | Lucy Morantz

Artist Nicholas Galanin speaks about his mural in the Lory Student Center Jan. 24. Galinin’s was part of the Scott Artists Series created by the Colorado State University Art and Art History department.

Katherine Borsting, Staff Reporter

Art is a form of storytelling, and it is able to convey information the spoken word often cannot. It is commonly left to the viewer to decide what emotions to feel or what questions to ask.

Many use art as a form of spreading messages about injustice and shedding light on forgotten history. One of these artists is Nicholas Galanin.  

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Jan. 24, Galanin, a Tlingit and Unangax artist, gave a talk at the Lory Student Center as a part of the Scott Artist Series hosted by Colorado State University. The event was in collaboration with the Native American Cultural Center and the department of art and art history.

The artist was also present for the unveiling of a mural he helped design on the CSU Visual Arts Building. 

Galanin uses his art as a form of expression and representation to display his roots and remind us of the injustices Indigenous tribes and peoples face. Galanin graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in jewelry design from London Guildhall University as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Indigenous visual arts from Massey University in New Zealand, according to CSU’s art and art history website.

“Art grabs people’s attention, and because of that, I think it is important we see work that is both appealing to look at as well as informs the viewer about crucial topics.” –Samantha O’Brien, CSU sophomore 

During the artist talk, Galanin displayed a variety of pieces from his collection and elaborated on the meaning of each one.

Galanin incorporates a variety of media in order to push his viewers to feel, think and challenge the past of Indigenous culture. These media include, but aren’t limited to: woodwork, sculpture, videography and photography.  

Galinin’s work has been and can be found in a wide range of places, such as Palm Springs Art Museum in California, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia. 

As Galanin’s work has spread internationally, he recognized it can put limits on the Indigenous people for whom the art is meant. He made a note that the distance of travel is often not possible and may restrict them from viewership. 

“By placing these works so far, it limits the availability of Indigenous to come see them and experience the meanings,” Galanin said. 

Many who attended the artist talk felt moved by the work Galanin has created and that it was paying tribute to topics often not discussed. 

Samantha O’Brien, a sophomore at CSU, attended the event and was eager to learn more about the work displayed.

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“Art grabs people’s attention, and because of that, I think it is important we see work that is both appealing to look at as well as informs the viewer about crucial topics,” O’Brien said. 

Galanin ended his artist talk with a question-and-answer section, where he discussed how he enjoys using modern methods despite his art illustrating pieces of history. 

“To make my woodwork, I use a chainsaw, of course; however, I feel that does not take away from what it means,” Galanin said in response to being asked if he uses traditional methods in his craft.

Galanin’s art can be found on his website galan.in or his Instagram @nicholasgalanin.

Reach Katherine Borsting at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @katbor2025