Artists Nicholas Galanin and Merritt Johnson said on Friday night that they had asked the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to remove a sculpture from its galleries as a protest against the US’s plans to provide funding to Israel.
The sculpture, titled Creation with her Children (2017), is one of the biggest artworks in “The Land Carries Our Ancestors,” a survey of contemporary Native American art curated by artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. It marks the first time in 30 years that the National Gallery of Art has devoted a show to Indigenous art.
The work by Galanin (Lingít/Unangax) and Johnson (who is not affiliated with a tribal nation) is a large sculpture of a child whose 17th-century dress is cut away to reveal animals’ mouths being pried open. According to the artists, it is meant to portray a figure who has “endured hundreds of years of colonization, corporatization, commodification, and subjugation.”
“It is with deep regret that we must ask for our work be removed from the National Gallery due to US government funding of Israel’s military assault and genocide against the Palestinian people,” the artists wrote on Instagram. “We’re calling on the Federal Government to demand an immediate ceasefire, cut military aid to Israel, and lift the siege on Gaza.”
A National Gallery of Art spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier Friday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would direct $14.3 billion in aid to Israel and cut funding to the Internal Revenue Service. The bill outlines a plan in which $4 billion alone would bolster the Iron Dome, the defense system used by the Israeli military. But in order for the bill to become law, it will need to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden, who has said he will veto the bill.