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Nicholas Galanin
My Ears Are Numb

2012

Price Upon Request

About

This work is based on the murder of John T. Williams by Seattle police officer Ian Birk in 2010. John T. Williams was an Indigenous artist, carrying his carving knife and a totem across a Seattle street; because he was deaf, he was unable to hear Ian Birk, who shot and killed him without hesitation. Statistically Native Americans are at highest risk of being killed by police officers. The precedent for this behavior has been well established throughout the history of the United States in which military, cavalry, and settlers were legally protected and often rewarded for murdering Indigenous men, women and children. In My Ears are Numb, Galanin stretches the US flag to create a drum, the stick that accompanies it a police baton he has carved from red cedar, reflecting the violent beat of the nation, felt by Indigenous bodies for hundreds of years. My Ears are Numb is paired with How Bout Those Mariners, a video loop of a Tlingit warrior walking with a knife in hand. The video’s audio track is taken from the police vehicle recording of Ian Birk murdering John T. Williams as he walked, carving knife in hand, and the conversations that follow. Beyond the walls of his studio, Galanin designs and fabricates ceramic riot gear, arrows in flight, and curio masks covered in delftware patterns, employing materials and processes to expand and forward dialogue on what artistic production is and how it can be used to envision possibility. His concepts determine his materials and processes. His practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists. Galanin apprenticed with master carvers and jewellers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University in Jewellery Design and his MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts at Massey University in New Zealand. He lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska.

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