The Denison Museum’s latest exhibit showcases the work of photographer Will Wilson, a Navajo whose ongoing Photographic Exchange (CIPX) project is aimed at “creating a contemporary vision of Native North America,” according to the press release.

Using innovative photographic techniques, Wilson’s photographs put faces to current generations of Native Americans and highlight some struggles that they continue to face. His panoramic photos of environmental beauty, captured by drone, sit up next to close-ups of “beware of uranium” signs, depicting the effects of uranium mining on native lands.

Wilson took portraits of Native Americans using old-time photographic techniques. “He combines 19th-century wet plate (tintype) photography with 21st century AR technology to create new conversations about Indigenous identity,” the press release reads.

The people in the pictures look like striking figures from the 19th-century at first glance, but the viewer is quickly brought back to the present when they glimpse elements of pop culture in the photos, such as a modern bicycle or a Japanese graphic magazine. Accompanied by historical images from Edward Curtis’ The Native American Indian (1907-1930), the exhibit presents a fascinating portrait of indigenous identity. Additionally, visitors can access QR codes for some of the ‘talking tintype’ portraits, which link to audio recordings of people in the photos.

The exhibit is part of a wider indigenous theme that Denison will be expanding upon with visits from poets, professors, and dancers. “The aim is to deepen and broaden campus conversations in Indigenous studies, activisms, and histories, over the course of the year and beyond,” the press release says.

Generous support was provided by the Art Bridges Foundation and Laura C. Harris Series.

September 30, 2021