Urban youth culture merges with aboriginal identity in the Vancouver Art Gallery's new exhibit Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture.

More than 20 artists from across North America — including artists of Aleut, Apache, Cree, Haida, Inuit, Lakota, Mi'kmaq, Mohawk, Navajo, Tsimshian and other backgrounds — are showcasing work that reflects the contemporary aboriginal experience.

Hip hop has been a forum for native activism, especially in Vancouver, and it was the jumping off point for co-curators Tania Willard, a Secwepemc artist, and Kathleen Ritter, associate curator at VAG.

The exhibit is proof of the persistence of native culture and its ability to express itself through electronic beats and break dancing as easily as through traditional dancing and drums, Willard says.

Beat Nation is on display at the VAG until June 3.