Grant Recipients John Cage Award Music/Sound 2024

Nathan Young

Nathan Young looks directly at the camera in front of a dark blue, out of focus background. He is wearing a light blue linen button down shirt with white buttons.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
  • 2024 John Cage Award
  • Music/Sound
  • Artist, Scholar
  • Born 1975, Tahlequah, OK
  • Lives in Norman, OK
  • He/Him

Artist Statement

Nathan Young (born 1975, Tahlequah, OK) is an artist and scholar working in an expanded practice that incorporates sound, video, documentary, animation, installation, socially engaged art, experimental music and art history. Nathan’s work often draws upon the spiritual and the political to complicate and subvert notions of the sublime. Nathan co-founded the artist collective Postcommodity and holds an MFA in Music/Sound from Bard College’s Milton-Avery School of the Arts. Young is a PhD Candidate in the University of Oklahoma’s innovative Native American Art History Doctoral program where his scholarship is focused on Indigenous Sonic Agency. Nathan’s work has been supported by Creative Capital, The Tulsa Artist Fellowship, The George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Pew Foundation, and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation as well as the Tribeca Film Institute and the Sundance Institute. Young is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians and is also a direct descendent of the Pawnee Nation and Kiowa Tribe. Young formerly served as an elected member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians Tribal Council.

- December 2023


Nathan Young’s multi-media practice is anchored in sound. An artist, composer, and scholar, his work takes a collaborative and community-oriented approach to place making while working across sound, video, animation, and experimental music, among other genres. Focusing on the convergence of spiritual and political realms, Young aims to inspire inquiry into forgotten, marginalized, or obscured histories. He remains open to a variety of artistic mediums to best articulate his work and intentions.

Young’s installation, nkwiluntàmën, meaning “I long for it; I am lonesome for it (such as the sound of a drum),” 2023, premiered at Pennsbury Manor, a historical site and the country home of writer and religious thinker William Penn in Morrisville, PA. The immersive installation explored the historical legacy of the removal of the Delaware Tribe (Lenape) from the area, filling the site with the work of various composers and his own collaborative compositions, together with abstract visualizations of the Lenape language. Notably, Young’s project was the first time a historical organization has collaborated with a Delaware/Lenape artist to begin a conversation surrounding this subject matter.

Other works include: Cowboy (2023), Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO; Shine On - We Haunt You (Ear/Wave/Event Journal, 2021); Sonic Agency (Canadian Art Magazine, 2021); Activation/Transformation I (2021), The Wheelwright Museum of American Indian Art, Sante Fe, NM; Welcome to Lenapehoking (2018), Performance Space, New York, NY; and Night Music of the Southern Plains American Indian (2018), Kansas City Art Institute Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice, Kansas City, MO.

Young has received the Pew Arts and Culture Foundation Project Award (2022), the Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2021-2022), and the Tulsa Artist Fellowship (2016-2021).

On the left side of the frame, Nathan Young is visible from the hips up and wears a dark hoodie and a baseball cap. He leans over the open hood of a car with his back to the camera, washed in yellow light. He holds a microphone vertically in his right hand, pointed downward to capture sound emitted by the car's engine.

Performance still from Karhausen at Cameron Studios, Tulsa, OK, 2017. Performer: Nathan Young. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nathan Young performs on the floor with three others in a well-lit, grey-carpeted room. Young is on the left half of the frame, kneeling with his head bowed towards the ground. He holds a wired electrical device to his face, his eyes are closed, wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt. The people behind him and to the right sit upright on the floor with closed eyes and crossed legs, also holding wired electrical devices. The black corded devices are plugged into a black power strip placed on the floor before Young.

Performance still from Lullaby for Peyote Tapes at Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nathan Young performs awash in blue light, with a soundboard and amplifier by his side, a projection screen visible behind him. He is centered in the image, leaned over to the left to adjust a dial on his amplifier. He wears a guitar strapped over his shoulder and his face is turned towards the ground. He is wearing dark jeans, a shortsleeved blue and white plaid button up, a dark baseball cap, eyeglasses, and a silver watch on his left wrist.

Performance still from Something is Coming at Mountain Standard Time Biennial of Performance Art, Calgary, Canada, 2018. Performer: Nathan Young. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Three performers play on a stage washed in blue light, a projector screen lowered behind them. Nathan Young stands on the left side of the frame, bent over adjusting a soundboard. There is a guitar on a stand and two amplifiers stacked on top of one another to the left of where he stands. In the middle of the stage, Suzanne Kite crouches holding a walkie-talkie up to her face, her back facing the camera. Next to her, on the right side of the frame, Seth Cardinal Dodginghorse kneels holding their guitar, head tilted down to look at the pedal setup before them.

Performance still from Something is Coming at Mountain Standard Time Biennial of Performance Art, Calgary, Canada, 2018. Performers: Nathan Young, Suzanne Kite and Seth Cardinal Dodginghorse. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Awash in red light, Nathan Young and Mateo Galindo perform in a studio space scattered with instruments and equipment. Young stands on the left side of the frame, bent over with his face tilted away from the camera as he adjusts an amplifier. He is wearing jeans and a dark hoodie with a baseball cap. Opposite him, on the right side of the frame, Mateo Galindo sits behind a drum set with a small table of pedals and sound boards next to him. He gazes down at the drum before him with his right hand adjusting a soundboard.

Performance still from Spirit Plate: Performance Invoice/Invocation at Cameron Studios, Tulsa, OK, 2020. Performers: Nathan Young and Mateo Galindo. Photo by Blackhorse Lowe.