New Mexico History Museum

"Native American Portraits" Opening Reception

May 15, 2012


Santa Fe—A dazzling collection of original prints featuring Native Americans from across North America opens this Friday at the New Mexico History Museum. The Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation will serve refreshments from 5-7 pm. The museum is open for free on Fridays from 5-8 pm.

Native American Portraits: Points of Inquiry pulls some of the most beautiful and elegant portraits from the collections of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives. Dating back to the Civil War, the images reveal photographers’ attempts to portray the lives of Native American peoples. Almost inadvertently, the photographs also portray a nation’s changing attitudes toward Native peoples.

Included in Native American Portraits are the rigid and formal ethnographic portraits of visiting Native dignitaries to Washington, D.C., following the Civil War by photographers such as Charles M. Bell and Zeno Schindler; the overly romanticized and staged photos of Edward S. Curtis and Karl Moon; and the elegant but casual at-home photographs of New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians by T. Harmon Parkhurst and others.

Curated by Palace of the Governors Photo Archivist Daniel Kosharek, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Photo Archivist Diane Bird, and Andrew Smith of the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe, the exhibit divides the photos into three time periods representing various “points of inquiry” into American Indian-ness.

A contemporary element of the exhibit showcases Native American photographers Larry McNeil, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, and Zig Jackson, who use photography to explore and re-claim historical Native American portraiture.

For more on the exhibit, click here.


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