Opportunities to view indigenous peoples through the eyes of indigenous photographers are rare and recent. Our People, Our Land, Our Images, on view at the Museum of Nebraska Art from June 14 until August 7, 2011, presents the works of three generations of indigenous photographers from North America, South America, the Middle East, and New Zealand. The exhibition includes newly discovered 19th century trailblazers, well established contemporary practitioners, and emerging photographers from the next generation.
The 51 works in the exhibition tell their stories through differing photographic approaches, ranging from straightforward documentary to aesthetically altered images that combine overlays and collage. The images stand united, however, 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 26 artists include Cherokee Jennie Ross Cobb, the earliest known female Native American photographer.
The many perspectives represented in the exhibition offer 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. Our People, Our Land, Our Images also demonstrates the longevity and continuing vitality of native photographic traditions.
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 15 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, England; the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, Arizona; and the Barbican Art Gallery, London.
This exhibition is organized and circulated by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance with the Nebraska Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. 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 or contact MONA at (308) 865-8559.
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