Alaskan Native artist designs mural for CSU Visual Art Building

A new mural designed by nationally recognized artist Nicholas Galanin and painted by students in ART 260: Painting I and ART 460: Advanced Painting and foundations, has been painted on the Visual Arts building on the CSU campus.

Galanin, a Lingít/Unangax̂ multi-disciplinary artist whose work is rooted in his perspective as an Indigenous man, will be on campus in early 2023 to participate in the mural unveiling at CSU’s Visual Arts Building (at the northwest corner closest to Canvas Stadium) followed by an artist talk. For more information on the rescheduling of the unveiling and artist talk, please refer to the Department of Art & Art History’s website.

Galanin’s visit will be part of the Scott Artist Series, a program that supports the exchange of ideas among artists from multiple disciplines, various places and diverse backgrounds. The series was established by CSU alumni Shaesby Scott (’97, Art) and his wife, Catherine Scott (’98, History).

The Scott Artist Series artist talk will be hosted by the Department of Art and Art History, the Lory Student Center’s Duhesa Gallery and the Native American Cultural Center.

Photos courtesy of Ellie Crowley, John Eisele.

The mural, titled “State S(t)eal,” is part of the Department of Art & Art History’s Mural Initiative and Engaged Art Walk program. The painting process was completed over two weeks through the direction of Assistant Professor of Painting Aitor Lajarin-Encina.

“When we started looking, we were looking for different artists and we were well aware that CSU is situated on Native American land,” said Lajarin-Encina, reflecting on the factors that influenced the artist search. “We were interested in bringing a Native American artist and it just so happened that the school was bringing Nicholas Galanin, who is a Native American artist based out of Alaska for the Scott Artist Series.”

Lajarin-Encina worked closely with Galanin, sharing the dimensions of the space that would be painted and the core goals that a public art piece of this scale would hopefully achieve on the CSU campus. Galanin delivered multiple fully developed concepts and the final design was carefully chosen.

The mural is a nod to both modern-day and historical struggles within Native American and Indigenous communities with imagery tying into colonial histories that forever changed the landscape of Indigenous culture in the U.S.

“I like the ambiguity of the mural,” Lajarin-Encina said. “[Galanin] made sure it gets you thinking about what it is, so that you wonder a little bit.

“It goes along with the type of art we talk about in the art department – art that raises complicated questions more than teaching simple lessons, asking people to face complex realities,” he added.

Murals like this represent a collective movement toward sharing both the department’s and CSU’s values with the surrounding community. The department hopes to not only transform its building into something beautiful but also exhibit art that represents core values of social justice and equity.

“We are contributing – with our own means – to this discussion and enforcing the values we believe in,” Lajarin-Encina said.

Photos courtesy of Ellie Crowley.

For other ways to celebrate Native American culture and history during Native American Heritage Month, please refer to the CSU Native American Culture Center or the short list of events below:

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Trees, Water, People Film Showing: Homelands

The Lyric, 6 p.m.

A story of Indigenous resilience and land stewardship, Homelands follows a crew of Lakota tree planters in South Dakota fighting to preserve their land and cultural traditions for future generations amidst centuries of colonization and the ongoing climate crisis. The event also will include free food provided by DGT in the lobby before the screening. Co-sponsored with ACT Human Rights Film Festival.

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Native American Heritage Month Film Showing: Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

The Lyric, 6 p.m.

At the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierras, Manzanar, the World War II concentration camp, becomes the confluence for memories of Payahuunadü: the now-parched “land of flowing water.” Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American, and rancher communities form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles. Co-sponsored with ACT Human Rights Film Festival and CSU Asian Pacific American Cultural Center.


RESCHEDULED for Early 2023

Mural Unveiling at the Visual Arts Building

Nicholas Galanin’s work is rooted within his perspective as an Indigenous man, which expands and refocuses the intersections of culture, centering Indigeneity through form, image, and sound. Rejecting binaries and categorization, Galanin works to envision, build and support Indigenous sovereignty. Co-sponsored with Campus Activities and the Lory Student Center Arts Program.

Scott Artist Series: Nicholas Galanin – Art Lecture and Reception

For more details on the artist talk rescheduling, please refer to the Department of Art & Art History’s website.