Edward S. Curtis Exhibit

“Edward S. Curtis was a driven, charismatic, pioneer artist and photographer who set out at the turn of the last century to document traditional American Indian life before it disappeared. He rose from obscurity to become the most famous photographer of his time. Curtis abandoned his career as a successful portrait photographer and spent 30 years creating an astonishing body of work capturing Native American culture: 10,000 audio recordings, 20 volumes of text, a full length motion picture, and 40,000 photographs.
When Curtis began photographing American Indians, he believed that their cultures were vanishing. When he nished The North American Indian project in 1930, his own work vanished into obscurity. It was rediscovered in the 1970s and helped to inspire the revival of traditional customs on many reservations and a greater appreciation of native cultures in the U.S.”

– Anne Makepeace, lmmaker and creator of the documentary, Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians

In the 30 years it took to complete The North American Indian project, Curtis visited almost 80 Indian tribes in the rugged western third of the United States, Canada, and Alaska. In an era when domestic travel involved risk and uncertainty, he managed, through careful planning and tenacity, to cover 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) of western terrain by rail, waterway, foot, and any other means he could find.

“These pictures were to be transcriptions for future generations that they might behold the Indian as nearly lifelike as possible as he moved before he ever saw a paleface or knew there was anything human or in nature other than what he himself had seen.” – Edward S. Curtis

See images below for additnal details.

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