I remember countless night of my father working quietly at this bench, and it always intrigued me to see the work he created, to learn how important it was to him, and to observe the use of his tools. Being in his shop was like being a kid in a toy store. My father [Dave Galanin] and my uncle [Will Burkhart] allowed me to work with their carving tools and answered my questions. Growing up, they had watched their grandfather, George Benson, working on large projects for the community in his shop.
The art has always been an important part of our communities. When you see the old photographs, the art forms were everywhere. It’s a language, and it’s a tool, and it’s beautifully powerful. To explain Tlingit art briefly isn’t easy. When I look at an older piece that’s well done, I get a great sense of joy, an uplifting feeling. The forms are full and alive with a breath of life. I only hope to translate that strength in my own work.
Excerpt from “Totems to Turquoise”, American Museum of Natural History, 2004.
© 2019 Spirit Wrestler Gallery. All Rights Reserved.