Living Cultures exhibit at the Seattle Central Library explores native cultures in photos through April 30

Featured image by photographer Sharon Grainger, whose work is on display at the Living Cultures exhibit at the Seattle Central Library until April 30

More than 20 Northwest organizations and tribes are celebrating Edward S. Curtis’ 150th birthday in 2018 by using his photographs to initiate conversations about art, culture, and place.

As part of this Beyond the Frame program, the Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch is hosting Living Cultures, an exhibit exploring the life and culture of the Haida, Lummi, Tlingit, and the Kwakwaka’wakw. Part 1 started January 13 and features 24 photos of contemporary tribal culture by Sharon Grainger. Part 2, which begins Friday, February 16, expands the collection with 20 Curtis images, 10 by Sharon Grainger, and tribal artifacts and regalia. Both parts of the exhibit will be on display until Monday, April 30.

Grainger and tribal leaders will give special presentations during the exhibit.

Curtis is best known for his work documenting Native American culture in the early 20th Century. During this project lasting 30 years, he made from 40,000 to 50,000 negatives, many on glass. He also produced 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American languages and music, and was the first to film extensive footage of the Native Americans. His work was published in The North American Indian, a 20-volume book, 20-portfolio collection that has been reprinted to commemorate his 150th birthday.

Grainger has been working with the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, British Columbia, for more than 10 years to document the lives and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation. She’s also working on a project to restage Curtis’ images to portray changes in Native American and First Nations’ lives since Curtis made his original photographs. View examples from Grainger’s restaging project.

The Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch is located at 1000 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle between Spring and Madison Streets. Parking is available at the library. Get directions, details about parking, and public transit options.

View the complete list of commemorative events in 2018 at the Association of King County Historical Organizations’ Curtis 150/Beyond the Frame page.

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