“Selections from the North American Indian” by Edward Curtis will be exhibited at the Portland Museum of Art from February 26th through May 29. It includes 25 photos of Indians that Curtis shot between 1907 and 1930.
The faces of the portraits say so much.
The images were first included in a book project by Curtis, “The North American Indian.” Curtis documented Indians and native culture, primarily across the American West and the Pacific Northwest. He made more than 2,000 photogravures, and his research represented the most comprehensive effort at the time to document Indian culture. He visited more than 80 tribes.
Curtis was sometimes criticized for romanticizing Indians, often asking them to wear ceremonial dress and adornments that were accurate but presented out of context. On the other hand, his work was valuable for its scope and completeness, and Curtis earned high marks for his photographic artistry.
The Portland Museum has commentary by contemporary Maine Indian artists Brenda Moore-Mitchell, George Neptune and David Moses Bridges to accompany the photographs on display. Visitors can access their remarks through audio recordings in the gallery.