Published: November 27, 2007
“Edward S. Curtis: Prints of Native Americans,” a new exhibition on view at the Cape Cod Museum Of Art (CCMA) December 1 through January 13, presents 16 of Curtis’s fine prints from the private collection of a Cape Cod resident.
Related events include a film on the controversy about Curtis’ work, Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians, on Saturday, December 1, at 2 pm, and Thursday, December 6, at 12:30 pm (cost is $5) and a talk on the Native American culture of the Cape and Islands with Jonathan Perry, Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday, December 8, at 1 pm. Cost is $12, $7 for CCMA members.
Born in 1868 in Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists. For 30 years he devoted his life to an odyssey of documenting the lives and traditions of the Native people of North America.
Beginning in 1896 and ending in 1930, Curtis photographed and documented every native American tribe west of the Mississippi, taking more than 40,000 negatives of 80 tribes.
Curtis’s work has stirred controversy since its rediscovery in the 1970s. He has been accused of posing his subjects and perpetuating the myth of the vanishing race. The complexity of this controversy was explored in the documentary film, Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians , seen on the PBS American Masters Series in 2000. It tells the dramatic story of Curtis’s life, the creation of his monumental work and the changing views about the people he documented.
Jonathan Perry, member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah of Martha’s Vineyard, an assistant program director at Plimoth Plantation, is a lecturer, singer, award winning dancer of traditional dancer and artist.
Early in his life, Perry acquired a passionate interest in art forms passed down from his ancestors. He creates works of art, jewelry and tools at Plimoth Plantation and shows through the country.
Perry will talk about Curtis’s work and the history of the Wampanoag tribes from precontact to contemporary time and their role in the Cape Cod whaling industry. He will also talk about the artwork of the tribe during the 1800s and early 1900s and share the traditional meanings and spiritual significance of the materials and designs.
Cape Cod Museum of Art is at 60 Hope Lane, Route 6A at the Cape Cod Center for the Arts. For information, 508-385-4477, extension 12, or www.ccmoa.org .
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