Nicholas Galanin: a Name You Should Know
What with this website's new splash, the paperback launch hoopla, a trip to Juneau to be the featured writer for the UAS Literary&Arts Journal Tidal Echoes , my agent's praise of my novel manuscript, I'm a little overwhelmed. All this should make me very happy, and it does, except that it makes it harder to write a good sentence. The expectations are suddenly so high. The trouble with publicity is that you shouldn't believe it, because if you do it makes it hard to even blog for fear of disappointing everyone. ("What's so great about that?" They'll say."A lot of hoopla for nothing." ) Luckily, there's too much going on not to share some of it with you. I am totally inspired by the University of Alaska Southeast students and guests who contributed to Tidal Echoes. They where so brave on Saturday night, the way they wrote and then read such personal poems and essays in front of their teachers, parents, and dignitaries from the college. I don't believe I could have done that at twenty. (Heck, it's hard at 50.) I was grateful and honored to be invited to be part of a journal so literary, artsy, well-crafted and heartfelt. Also, I am really excited about a young (31) Tlingit artist I met at the launch event in Juneau, Nicholas Galanin of Sitka. He was the visual artist of this issue for Tidal Echoes and gave a wonderful talk about evolving Northwest Coast art. He has a unique background. He grew up in Southeast Alaska and earned an AA at the University of Alaska Southeast in visual art, and then his BA in London and MA in New Zealand. (He's earning a Ph.D. there now.) Nicholas owns the Devilfish gallery in Sitka where he makes and sells silver jewelry to support himself. (He has trained with Haines master carver Wayne Price.) But his big art now showing in Vancouver is very different. He doesn't carve totem poles. He is pushing at the boundaries of indigenous art and what it all means. He makes masks out of cutting pages from anthropological texts. He films videos of break dancing to Tlingit drumming and chanting. See some of his work and read more about his art here. I hope reading his own publicity doesn't scare Nicholas. I hope it doesn't put him in a box either, because by climbing out of one, he really is changing the way I see the world. What artist, literary or visual, doesn't hope to do that? I keep Mary Oliver's poem "Praying" taped above my desk. In it she encourages artists and writers not to fret about the reviews, or seek praise, rather, simply, "just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don't try to make them elaborate, this isn't a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak."