Opportunities to view indigenous peoples through the eyes of indigenous photographers are rare and recent. Our People, Our Land, Our Images, which opens May 27th at the Palmer Museum of History and Art, 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.
The fifty-one 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 twenty-six artists in the exhibition include Cherokee Jennie Ross Cobb, the earliest known female Native American photographer.
The many perspectives represented in 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. Our People, Our Land, Our Images also demonstrates the longevity and continuing vitality of native photographic traditions.
In an effort to personalize the exhibit, the Palmer Museum has partnered with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, ANHC. ANHC will be providing additional photographs from various Native Alaska tribes that will be used to create a special Alaska section within the exhibit. It is our hope that this feature will allow visitors to relate more to the exhibit and inspire them to learn more about the native groups in the state of Alaska. The Palmer Museum will be the only institution in the state of Alaska to be hosting this remarkable exhibit so be sure to visit the museum during the exhibition. It will be on display at the museum fromMay27th through August 3rd, seven days a week from 9:00AM - 6:00PM. Admission is free to the public.
In conjunction with the exhibit, on July 11th, from 10:00AM - 6:00PM, there will be an exhibit celebration, during the Palmer Midsummer Garden and Art Faire, that will feature Native Alaska artists/artisans, a variety of cultural organization information tables and live performances from indigenous groups including the Yupik musical group Pamyua, a “tribal funk“ and “world music“ group that performs songs that are based on traditional Yupik, Inuit and Greenlandic chants that have been reinterpreted using modern styles. .
The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. 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