By Her Hand: Native American Women, Their Art, and The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis
“In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer, whose pictures are pictures, not merely photographs; whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful.…He knows their medicine men and sorcerers, their chiefs and warriors, their young men and maidens…”
—President Theodore Roosevelt, from the foreword to Curtis’ multi-volume work The North American Indian
“By Her Hand: Native American Women, Their Art, and The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis” is a rare opportunity to present work by the iconic photographer, Edward Curtis focused specifically on Native American women. The core concept of the exhibition is to create a synergistic relationship between the images and host venue collection artifacts, enriching the meaning of both by giving context, insight and perspective that would otherwise be unattainable. By concentrating on Native women and their art, the goal is to more deeply understand their roles within traditional Native society, culture and family, transforming the images so that the photographs offer a deeper human connection to the individuals and their way of life.
“By Her Hand“ includes approximately 60 vintage and contemporary Curtis photographs from the internationally acclaimed Christopher G. Cardozo Collection, and related ephemera (vintage postcards, promotional brochures, etc.). Host venues that own or have access to Native American collections will have the opportunity to present objects to accompany the photographic display or present the photographs exclusively, which have been chosen to create a beautiful, meaningful exhibition in their own right.
“By Her Hand” also naturally lends itself to a rich conversation regarding the environment and respect for natural resources. Both Curtis’ portraits and landscapes present a unique view of North America—what human life looked like among many of North America’s tribal groups, and how people interacted with the natural environment. This can serve as a point of discussion about contemporary environmental issues, including sustainability and stewardship.
Through this exhibition viewers can experience the work through the eyes of this incredible artist while building a deeper understanding of Native American history and culture, and especially the many roles that women played and the contribution they made.