UW-Whitewater hosts Edward Curtis exhibit

WHITEWATER, Wis.—In 1901, at age 33, Edward Sheriff Curtis embarked on a journey to document what he perceived as a vanishing race. Thirty years later, Curtis’ vision, as depicted in upwards of 50,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings on wax cylinders, came to define Americans’ vision of Native American cultures.

From Sept. 12 through Oct. 22, the Crossman Gallery on the UW-Whitewater campus will host photographs from the Whitewater, Wis.-born Curtis.

“Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian” will showcase 70 images from an ongoing European tour and from the archive of the personal collection of Christopher Cardozo. The exhibit will feature several images never before seen in the United States, and will precede a tour of major American cities sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Cardozo is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on Edward Curtis and his photography. His personal collection is the largest, and most broad-ranging, Curtis collection in the world. Cardozo, who will serve as curator of the exhibition, has authored six books on Edward Curtis, including Sacred Legacy and the award-winning Native Nations.

In celebration of “Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian,” Cardozo will be the honored speaker at a fund-raising dinner Sunday, Sept. 25. Funds from the event will be used to offset the cost of exhibiting the collection. He will also present a public presentation on Curtis and his work at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26 at The Greenhill Center for the Arts in Whitewater.

Curtis devoted his life to making a comprehensive record of the American Indian. Over the course of his career, Curtis traveled the North American continent to document the lives of more than 80 native tribes. His monumental publication, a 20-volume series titled The North American Indian, presented to the public an extensive ethnographical study of numerous tribes, and his photographs remain memorable icons of the American Indian.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to present the legacy of Edward Sheriff Curtis,” said Rick Fassl, vice president of the Whitewater Arts Alliance. “It is also an honor to work in partnership with Mr. Cardozo to bring this monumental exhibition to the hometown of Edward S. Curtis.”

According to Fassl, both President Theodore Roosevelt and financier J. P. Morgan championed Curtis’ work.

“Curtis believed he had a mission to safeguard the ‘sacred legacy’ of these people by preserving their vanishing traditions and customs in words and photographs,” Fassl said. “He sacrificed his health, his marriage, and his fortunes to the creation of this vast pictorial history of the traditional lives of the American Indian. This exhibit is a testament to Curtis’ life’s work.”

The Crossman Gallery is in the Greenhill Center for the Arts on the UW-Whitewater Campus, 800 Main St., Whitewater. The exhibit is free to the public. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. Lectures featuring renowned authorities and tours of Whitewater’s unique Native American Effigy Mounds are also planned. For more information on “Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian,” and ticket information for the dinner featuring Christopher Cardozo, visit www.whitewaterarts.org.

From the Sept. 7-13, 2005, issue

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