On May 16, 2023, Public Art Fund will debut In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra, a monumental corten steel sculpture by artist Nicholas Galanin. The artist’s first public artwork in New York City, this new 30-foot tall sculpture combines references to the US/Mexico border wall and Pop Art, serving as a point of focus to consider the legacy of colonization and its impact on migration and our relationships with Land across generations, cultures, and communities. In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra questions the concept of border walls, which are designed to cut across land and water, restricting access to the migratory routes necessary for various life forms. The sculpture is constructed using the identical material and scale of the US/Mexico border wall, deploying materials that may otherwise have been destined for the construction of the wall. Spelling out the word “LAND” as a multiplied and dynamic sculptural form, Galanin’s work defeats the function of the wall as a barrier to entry, focusing instead on the Indigenous connection with Land and mutual sustainability that transcends borders.
Nicholas Galanin: In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra is curated by Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director Nicholas Baume with support from Assistant Curator Jenée-Daria Strand.
About the Artist
Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, Sitka, AK) creates art rooted in his perspective as an Indigenous man connected to the land and culture to which he belongs. His work is embedded with incisive observation and critical thinking to advocate for social and environmental justice. Through concept, form, image, and sound, Galanin expands and refocuses the intersections of culture, centering Indigeneity. His works are vessels for knowledge, culture and technology—inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic. Deftly engaging with past, present and future, Galanin celebrates the beauty, knowledge and resilience of Indigenous people. Avoiding binaries and categorization, Galanin’s multilayered practice seeks to envision, build and support Indigenous sovereignty.
Over the past two decades Galanin’s work has ranged across media, materials and processes, including powerful examples of public art. In 2020 Galanin excavated the shape of the shadow of the Capt. James Cook 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 an analog to 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. Ultimately, his practice invites us to analyze and rethink the assumptions of embedded power structures and revalue those of Indigeneity, including care for land, community, and future generations.
Galanin holds a BFA from London Guildhall University in Jewellery Design and an MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts from Massey University in New Zealand, prior to which he apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers in his community; he is represented by Peter Blum Gallery in New York, and his music is released by Sub Pop Records in Seattle. Galanin lives and works with his family on Lingít Aani, Sitka, Alaska.