I seem to be running to the artistic world quite a bit lately, not something I'm exactly regretting. Now I'm not regretting checking out the link Grassroots Science sent me earlier - this man is brilliant.
I am not familiar with the work of Nicholas Galanin - but I plan on becoming something of a groupie after this. I spent forever on his Web site, checking out some of the very cerebral, yet... well, freaking COOL works he's done.
Much of what he does is not simply "pretty art." It is really an examination of Native (specifically, Tlingit) culture in the modern world.
One exhibition, "What Have We Become?" presents something I myself have questioned, debated, pondered, gone after for years - and struggle with as a growing writer. From the artist:
In the past, Tlingit culture was preserved orally through story telling, song and visually through art. In researching my cultural history and heritage I have found myself reading western literature, often written from a foreign perspective in which my culture has been digested and recycled back to me. Although literature is important for the retention of culture it raises issues about identity and authenticity that I must confront as a contemporary Tlingit artist. It also presents a dilemma in which old and new, customary and non-customary overlap and collide. It is at this point of collision that a new dynamic and tension is being negotiated.
This very question - and attitude - is a big motivating factor in answering the question, "Why do I write?" So many of even the leading examples of Tlingit culture in fiction or non-fiction are from an outside perspective, from the "stranger's" eyes. The theme, really just a recurring question, in so many short stories of mine has been a bit of literary wrestling with this. For that matter, much of the reason for this BLOG is because of the questions raised above.
Above piece is The Good Book Vol. 15 by Nocholas Galanin.