"The American Indian Image: Photographs by Edward S. Curtis
and Zig Jackson."
Sunday, May 30.
East Blvd., Cleveland.
Call 216-421-7340 or
go to clemusart.com.
Cleveland Museum of Art's big new exhibition on the art of American
Indians, which opens Sunday, focuses on extraordinary objects from
the early 19th to the early 20th centuries.
companion show, already on view, carries the story of American Indian
life forward to the present, through the medium of photography,
with two dramatically different messages.
the one hand, it presents two rooms full of romantic, sentimental,
sepia-toned images of American Indians in furs and feathers, famously
captured in the early decades of the 20th century by Edward S. Curtis.
work is completely undercut by a portfolio of 17 black-and-white
photographs from the 1980s and '90s, taken by American Indian photographer
Zig Jackson, who grew up on a reservation in North Dakota and now
lives in Savannah, Ga.
depicts pot-bellied chiefs in tribal regalia and tourists taking
snapshots of abandoned pueblos. Though raw and blunt, Jackson's
work is not without respect. It portrays American Indians today
as disadvantaged but hardy survivors who are trying to preserve
their heritage in a society that has thrust them aside.
work can't be considered the last word on the subject, but it provides
a sharp contrast to Curtis' honeyed view of the West, and makes
the museum's photographic exploration of American Indian life a
quiet little bombshell.