Spirit Capture: Native Americans and the Photographic Image

July 22, 2001–July 21, 2002
New York, NY

Featuring nearly 200 photographs from NMAI's vast archive of 125,000 images, Spirit Capture surveys the development of photography and the history of Native American life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Approximately twenty objects from the museum's collections and nearly twenty contemporary photographs and artworks are included in the exhibition to help communicate Native perspectives on the cultural history and experiences of Native peoples in the past century and a half. Since the first known photograph of a Native American was made in Great Britain in 1845, depictions and interpretations of depictions of Native peoples have evolved to reveal greater understandings about the lives recorded in the images. In considering both the photographer and subject, as well as the viewer, Spirit Capture seeks to provide understanding of the people in the photographs, while examining the roles and motives of those who created the images. The exhibition also invites Native American photographers and artists, inheritors of this legacy of image-making, to offer their responses to the photographs and the ideas they represent.