VISUAL PROTEST! AN INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE

Author

In April, the Patti and Rusty Rueff Galleries at Purdue University presented a solo retrospective highlighting my documentary photography of various social protest and cultural events as both an observer and participant. Beginning with the first Longest Walk, which took place in 1978, and culminating with images from 2010, the photographs affirm the many issues affecting Indigenous and other peoples here and abroad. Some of the works fall into the following themes: “American Indian Longest Walk Series,” “South African Embassy Apartheid Protests,” “The Embassy of Sudan Genocide Protests,” and the “Obama Presidential Primary Campaign.” Some of the more prominent people or symbols of them represented include American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier, Coretta Scott King, Arthur Ashe, Harry Belafonte, Attorney General Eric Holder, Congresswoman Eleanor Homes Norton, Reverend Walter Fauntroy, actress Daryl Hannah, producer David Simon, Emmy-winning screen writer and producer David Mills, and Powhatan historian Jack Forbes. Photos were shot in the United States, Canada, Cuba, and Ethiopia. Rather than presenting a traditional artist statement, I printed the words opposite in red and black lettering on a movable wall.

SOCIAL JUSTICE FREEDOM PEACE EQUALITY
ENVIRONMENT COLOR BIRTH HUMANITY FOUR
SACRED COLORS RED BLACK YELLOW WHITE
AMERICAS TURTLE ISLAND RELEVANT ASIA AFRICA
TRANSNATIONAL ABORIGINE INDIGENOUS FIRST
NATIONS CIVIL HUMAN RIGHTS INDIAN SEXUALITY
GENDER FEMINISM NATIVE AMERICAN AFRICAN
AMERICAN AMERINDIAN INDIOS MESTIZO
SPIRITUALITY RITUAL CEREMONY CREATE
RESEARCH INSPIRE DESIGN RAINBOW WATER
SING DANCE SHAPE WRITE RESPECT DREAM
THINK HELP MARCH PROTEST LAUGH UNITE
STRUGGLE SUPPORT UNFOLD WOMAN MAN
DEDICATE MENTOR PAINT DRAW PHOTOGRAPH
PRINT AHO JOURNALISM SCULPT DIGITIZE DESERT
EARTH DOCUMENT BEAD WORK RESERVATION
CLAN TOTEM TRIBE NATION LANGUAGE NOMAD
HOLY LAND SEER PROPHET SHAMAN VISION
QUEST ROCK PAINTING BUDDHISM HINDUISM
TAOISM JUDAISM ISLAM CHRISTIANITY SHINTO
KIVA RALLY LOVE ARCHITECTURE WAR UNION
TEACH EDUCATE MIND BODY YOGA HUMBLE
CHILD LOVE SEVEN GENERATIONS FOUR
DIRECTIONS SAND PAINTING STRIKE PACIFIST
DIASPORA REPATRIATE TREATY CREATOR GREAT
SPIRIT MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY SEARCH
SWEAT LODGE CLAY HARMONY EARTH GLOBE
UNIVERSE HOPE CHANGE LEAD DIRECT FOLLOW
AIR BOUNDARY FIRE LEGACY ASPIRE CULTURE

  

Phoebe Farris (Powhatan-Renape) is the arts editor for Cultural Survival Quarterly. She also is a professor of art and design/women’s studies and a former associate director of the Women's Studies Program at Purdue University.

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