Editor's note: The San Antonio Museum of Art provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the San Antonio Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:


Visions of a Vanishing Culture: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian

October 9, 2004 - January 9, 2005


(above: Edward S. Curtis, Wishham Girl)

The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is presenting Visions of a Vanishing Culture: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, an exhibition bringing together selections of the poignant photographic record of Native American life by Edward S. Curtis, one of America's greatest photographers. The exhibition will be on view October 9, 2004 through January 9, 2005 in the Museum's Cowden Gallery. (right: Edward S. Curtis, Watching the Dancers)

From 1904 to 1930 Curtis sought out the vanishing tribes of Native Americans with an unwavering passion and dedication, photographing and documenting more than 80 tribes west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. This monumental project won support from prominent and powerful figures including President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. His work, entitled The North American Indian, was published between 1907 and 1930, consisting of 20 volumes, each containing a hand pressed portfolio of photogravures recording their rapidly vanishing culture and lifestyle. The work still remains a magnificent documentation at the twilight of a great and proud people.

The majority of the photographs in this exhibition are drawn from The North American Indian portfolio, comprised of photogravures, master prints and cyanotypes. These magnificent Curtis photographs are complemented and enhanced by selected Native American artifacts from the collections of the Witte Museum in San Antonio. Textiles, beadwork, bags, pottery, blankets, masks, headdresses, decorative clothing and rawhide paintings are displayed among the Curtis photographs.

A wide variety of programming has been scheduled to complement Visions of a Vanishing Culture. The Museum Store is hosting a Trunk Show and Native American Jewelry Sale on opening weekend, October 9 and 10, during regular Museum operating hours and admission is free. Presented by the Waddell Trading Company and Dottie Parliament, visitors can purchase collectible jewelry created by Navajo and Hopi artists; rare, hand-made American Indian Pawn jewelry; pottery; baskets; and more.

SAMA invites families to participate in artist-led art activities inspired by Native American and American colonial arts and crafts at the VTS Family Day: Our American Story on October 24, 1-4 p.m. Discover the art of pinhole photography or take part in an authentic Native American ceremony, colonial re-enactment and Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) gallery demonstrations. (left: Edward S. Curtis, Painting A Hat)

A series of lectures examining the culture and lifestyle of Native Americans are also scheduled. Join Todd M. Kerstetter, History Department, Texas Christian University, for Genius at Work? Edward Curtis and the Making of Memory, focusing on photographs as historical documents using selected images by Curtis and others as examples for analysis on October 26 at 7 p.m. The majority of the Witte Museum's Native American collection came from the families of 16 United States Army officers who had been posted throughout the southwest. Michaele Haynes, Curator, Witte Museum, will present The Military and American Indians: Unlikely Partners in Cultural Preservation on November 14 at 2 p.m. Learn more about 20th Century American Indian Painting: A Continuing Tradition by Bruce Shackelford on November 30 at 7 p.m.

The exhibition is courtesy of the Edward S. Curtis Gallery in McCloud, California. The exhibition is funded by the Bishop Everett H. and Helen M. Jones Fund and the Amy Shelton McNutt Exhibition Fund with additional support provided by the Marcia and Otto Koehler Foundation. (right: Zuni Pottery Jar, Courtesy of Witte Museum Collection. Gift of Mrs. A.R. Alling)


Editor's note: Readers may also find of interest these related articles.

TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Edward S. Curtis Portfolio is a 60-minute video on the photography of Edward S. Curtis, who devoted 35 years of his life to photographing and documenting the vanishing race of the North American Indian. A printed text provides identification of each image. (quote courtesy Plains Art Msueum)

Edward S. Curtis: The Shadow Catcher. A profile of photographer, anthropologist and filmmaker Curtis, who spent 34 years recording the American Indian tradition. Between 1896 and 1930 Curtis collected interviews and original Indian stories, recorded some 10,000 songs and took 40,000 pictures many of which are used in the production. c1993. 89 min. Video/C 353. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley.

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

rev. 12/27/07

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the San Antonio Museum of Art in Resource Library

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art, calendars, and much more.

© Copyright 2004 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.