The Achievement of Edward S. Curtis: The Adventures and Travails of the Shadow Catcher
Cindy Engles generously underwrites the summer season of programming
Theodore Roosevelt wrote: “In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer, whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful. … because of his extraordinary success in making and using his opportunities, has been able to do what no other man ever has done; what, as far as we can see, no other man could do.”
Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) was the greatest photographer of American Indians. For more than 30 years, he traveled the American West without salary to take portraits of Native Americans, to record their songs and stories on cylinder discs and to take the notes that led to the stunning twenty-volume, “North American Indian.”
Clay Jenkinson has spent years studying Curtis the man, Curtis the photographer, Curtis the artist, Curtis the husband and father, and Curtis the historian. He was the keynote speaker at a national conference on Curtis in Seattle, and he has created a traveling exhibit entitled The Rough Rider and the Shadow Catcher: Theodore Roosevelt and Edward S. Curtis.
Jenkinson’s talk will include a careful assessment of recent criticism of Curtis: that he romanticized his subjects, that he occasionally bribed or manipulated his hosts, that he intruded into sacred territory, and that he was occasionally blinded by the Myth of the Vanishing Indian.