Opportunities to view indigenous peoples through the eyes of indigenous photographers are rare and recent. “Our People, Our Land, Our Images,” on display June 16-August 11 at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, presents the works of three generations of indigenous photographers from the North America, South America, the Middle East, and New Zealand. They include newly-discovered, nineteenth-century trailblazers, well established contemporary practitioners, and emerging photographers from the next generation.
This powerful exhibit is on loan to the Nebraska History Museum for only six weeks, so hurry and experience it before it moves on to its next destination!
The fifty-one works in the exhibition tell their stories through differing photographic approaches. Some are straightforward documentary shots. Others are altered images that combine overlays and collage. The images stand united in exploring their creators’ connections to their land, community, and traditions.
Artists’ statements accompanying the exhibition convey a variety of indigenous voices and concerns. The twenty-six artists in the exhibition include Cherokee Jennie Ross Cobb, the earliest known female Native American photographer. Two images by Cherokee photographer Shan Goshorn interpret women from two Nebraska-area tribes: Pawnee and Otoe-Missouria.
The exhibition offers an open-ended experience that asks audiences to think about how the camera in the hands of indigenous peoples becomes a tool with the power to confront and analyze stereotypes, politics, and histories. The exhibit also demonstrates the longevity and continuing vitality of native photographic traditions.
A free film series accompanies the exhibit on tour through ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. Short film screenings will include free popcorn and a post-film discussion led by a special guest from the community. Dates for the Sunday 2:00 p.m. film events include:
July 24 “Silent Tears” (1997, 28 min. Narrative) Director/Producer Shirley Cheechoo, Cree
July 31 “How People Got Fire” (2009, 16 min. Animated) Screenplay/Director: Daniel Janke, Animation design: Christopher Auchter, Haida
August 7 Experimental Short Films by Shelley Niro, Mohawk
The Nebraska History Museum at 131 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, is open to the public free of charge. Hours are 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday and 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed state holidays. More at www.nebraskahistory.org or call 402-471-4782.
NSHS Exhibits Artist Jennifer Graham uses a light meter to make sure none of the lights for the new exhibit “Our People, Our Land, Our Images” will be too hot and damage the photographs. The exhibit opened June 16 and will run until August 11.
MORE ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
Guest curator Veronica Passalacqua of The C. N. Gorman Museum at the University of California, Davis, originally organized this exhibition in conjunction with a conference for international indigenous photographers held at the Museum. For the past fifteen years, Passalacqua has been active in the field of Native North American art as a writer, curator, and scholar. Most recently, she facilitated the donation/repatriation of a significant private Lakota collection of artifacts to the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum, Pine Ridge Reservation. Previous curatorial work includes exhibitions at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock; and the Barbican Art Gallery, London.
ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.
— Lynne Ireland, NSHS Deputy Director