Educational Programs - Spring 2001
True ethnographic photographers strive to document the evidence of cultural change and avoid romantic idealism. I find that from years of photographing cultures, I have collected data in my images, even if only subconsciously. For instance, while in the Arctic last fall, I was invited to attend an outdoor community feast. My photographs portray women cutting seal and caribou meat with traditional ulu knives, and the group eating raw meat and preparing stews and hot tea. Yet in the background are the SUVs and pick-up trucks in which we all had arrived. It would be misleading to the viewer to portray contemporary Inuit living in igloos, riding dog sleds, and wearing only fur, and as a photographer, I question how my choices affect the portrayal of culture. These are some of the issues I will discuss in my lecture. -AW
Alison Wright, a freelance photojournalist based in San Francisco, documents the traditions and challenges of endangered cultures in remote areas around the world. She is the photographer and author of Spirit of Tibet: Portrait of a Culture in Exile, published by Snow Lion Publications in 1998. Her work includes photographic essays on medicinal healers in the Amazon rainforests, the hill tribes of Southeast Asia, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Burmese refugees in Thailand, Marco Poloís footsteps across the Silk Road of China and Pakistan, as well as life in the outback of Australia, where she lived for two years. Based in Nepal for four years while documenting the plight of children for UNICEF and other aid organizations, Wright received the Dorothea Lange Award in 1993 for her photographs of child labor in Asia. Since then, she has lived with exiled Tibetans in Nepal and India for over a decade, recording their culture and the challenges which exile has brought. In the summer of 2000, her photographs were featured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., as part of their Folklife Festival on Tibetan culture.
Since the late 1940s, in what has been called the contemporary period, the visual art of Canadian Inuit has taken many new directions--printmaking, textile arts, ceramics, and video--as well as building upon earlier practices of direct carving. This slide lecture will give an overview of historical developments, major artists, and regional concerns, as well as offer some insights into issues--questions of authenticity, validity, and identity--that have had an impact on its creation, its reception by the southern Canadian and international public, and its meaning for the North itself.
Marie Routledge is associate curator of Inuit art at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, where she has worked since 1985 when she was seconded from the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) to assist the Gallery with the initiation and development of its collection of contemporary Inuit art at a time when its absence was a part of the politics of Inuit art. Since then, she has overseen the growth of the collection with the help of generous donations from private supporters and DIAND to more than 1,300 sculptures, prints, drawings, and textile works, and managed an active program of temporary and permanent collection exhibitions, including Pudlo: Thirty Years of Drawing, Images of the Land, and Thoughts of Birds. Most recently, she organized Carving an Identity: Inuit Sculpture from the Permanent Collection, conceived to celebrate the creation of Nunavut and acknowledge a fifty-year benchmark in the history of this art.
Marie Bouchard holds a bachelorís degree in art history and co-curated the exhibition Jessie Oonark: A Retrospective for the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1986 as part of the requirements for her masterís degree in Canadian history. Having lived in the Arctic for ten years, during which time she worked with artists from Baker Lake, she has written and lectured extensively on Inuit art. She has had numerous opportunities to collaborate on exhibitions throughout North America. In 1993, she assisted the Baltimore Museum of Art with research and preparation for the exhibition Northern Lights: Inuit Textiles from the Canadian Arctic. Currently, she is organizing an exhibition of Baker Lake sculpture for the Inuit Heritage Centre in Baker Lake in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is also beginning research and preparation for an exhibition featuring the textile art of Baker Lake artist Marion Tuuíluq for the National Gallery of Canada.
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Last updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2001