Museum  June 19, 2018  Megan D Robinson

“Double Exposure” Brings Native American Self-Representation to the Forefront

Courtesy of the artist

Tracy Rector, Seminole/Choctaw, b. 1972., "Ch’aak’ S’aagí (Eagle Bone)," 2018, video, Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Now at the Seattle Art Museum, Double Exposure juxtaposes the work of iconic early American photographer Edward S. Curtis with contemporary Indigenous artists Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector and Will Wilson. Double Exposure contrasts Curtis’s haunting photos of a world he believed would soon be lost with current artistic expressions of Indigenous culture that’s very much alive.

Installation view of Double Exposure
Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Installation view of Double Exposure

Installation view of Double Exposure
Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Installation view of Double Exposure

Installation view of Double Exposure
Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Installation view of Double Exposure

Installation view of Double Exposure
Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Installation view of Double Exposure

One of the most well-known photographers of Native Americans and the American West, Curtis started his first photography studio in Seattle in 1891, where he photographed Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle’s daughter. Double Exposure commemorates the 150th anniversary of Curtis’s birth and explores how photography and other media shape identity.

Double Exposure features hundreds of Curtis’s photographs, as well as lantern slides and a docu-drama film. Contemporary multi-media installations integrated throughout the exhibition create a conversation about stereotypes, history, racial identity and art and culture. 

Courtesy of the artist

Marianne Nicolson, Dzawada'enuxw First Nation, b. 1969, "Ǩanǩagawi (The Seam of Heaven)," 2018, site-specific installation, Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Nicolson’s immersive sculptural installations utilize traditional Dzawada’enuxw First Nation expressions, using glass and light to create an otherworldly experience that merges art, myth and activism, drawing on Nicolson’s background in historical research, linguistics and anthropology. Specially commissioned for the exhibition, "Ḱanḱagawí (The Seam of Heaven)," a fourteen-foot glass arch, was inspired by histories of Columbia River peoples, the sacredness of water, and preservation and regulation issues.

An award-winning independent filmmaker, curator, mentor and educator, Choctaw/Seminole artist Rector uses film and digital media to continue the storytelling tradition of the Salish Sea Native peoples. Her collaborative filmmaking process allows the creation of intimate vignettes of Native life. One of her films on view is "Ch’aak’ S’aagi," one of the first virtual-reality videos by a Native artist.

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, Madrienne Salgado, Jingle Dress Dancer/Government and Public Relations Manager for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Citizen of the Muckleshoot Nation," 2018
Courtesy of the artist

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, Madrienne Salgado, Jingle Dress Dancer/Government and Public Relations Manager for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Citizen of the Muckleshoot Nation," 2018, from the series Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange: dᶻidᶻəlalič, exhibition print, 50 x 40 in., Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "K’ómoks Imperial Stormtrooper (Andy Everson), Citizen of the K’ómoks First Nation," 2018
Courtesy of the artist

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "K’ómoks Imperial Stormtrooper (Andy Everson), Citizen of the K’ómoks First Nation," 2018, from the series Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange: dᶻidᶻəlalič, exhibition print, 50 x 40 in., Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, Crystal Worl, Artist, Tlingit Athabascan," 2018
Courtesy of the artist

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, Crystal Worl, Artist, Tlingit Athabascan," 2018, from the series Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange: dᶻidᶻəlalič, exhibition print, 50 x 40 in., Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, John McCoy, Washington State Senator, Citizen of the Tulalip Nation," 2018
Courtesy of the artist

Will Wilson, Diné, b. 1969, "Talking Tintype, John McCoy, Washington State Senator, Citizen of the Tulalip Nation," 2018, from the series Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange: dᶻidᶻəlalič, exhibition print, 50 x 40 in., Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission

Diné photographer Wilson uses an early wet plate photographic process to create modern tintype portraits. His vital, dynamic portraits are a counterpoint to the nostalgia-infused, static portraits by Curtis. Wilson reclaims portraiture as an expression of ongoing Indigenous culture and identity as part of his ongoing Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange project. Some of the portraits are even brought “to life” using the free Layar app; they sing, perform or talk.

Double Exposure is on view at the Seattle Art Museum through September 9. Get more information online.

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.