Opening July 9 at the Delaware Art Museum, “In Conversation: Will Wilson” explores issues of Indigenous representation within the history of photography through the work of Diné (Navajo) photographer Will Wilson (b. 1969). A pow wow and storytelling event at the Museum are planned with the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Nanticoke Indian Association, and local Indigenous community members.
“Will Wilson’s photographs represent a meaningful shift in the way Indigenous communities are represented in museum spaces,” guest curator Kaila Schedeen said. “Wilson’s work provides the platform for individuals to represent themselves as they want to be seen, while also shifting the conversation of contemporary Indigenous representation towards exchange, mutual respect, and relationship-building.”
Wilson’s work explores the legacy of historical photographs on the representation of Native peoples in North America. Through the artist’s ongoing Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange (CIPX) project, Wilson combines historic wet plate (tintype) photography with 21st-century Augmented Reality (AR) technology in a convenient app to bring his “Talking Tintype” photographs to life. Through the CIPX images, Wilson facilitates new conversations about Indigeneity that emphasize a reciprocal relationship with the sitters. Wilson visited Delaware in May to photograph members of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Nanticoke Indian Association. Their portraits will be included in the exhibition at DelArt this summer and later at the Nanticoke Indian Museum.
“We are grateful to the committee of advisors who guided the presentation of this important exhibition and participated in the Critical Indigenous Photography Exchange,” says Community Engagement Specialist Iz Balleto. “We invite everyone to visit the exhibition at DelArt, celebrate Indigenous culture at the July 23 Pow Wow of Arts & Culture, and hear community members’ stories at the My Land, My Roots event on September 8.”
“In Conversation: Will Wilson” is complemented by an exhibit by local photographer Andre’ L. Wright, Jr., “Indigenous Faces of Wilmington,” in the Museum’s Orientation Hall. Both shows are on view through September 8. The national tour of “In Conversation: Will Wilson” is supported by the Art Bridges Foundation.
The exhibition was curated by Mindy Besaw, Curator of American Art/Director of Fellowships & Research from Crystal Bridges, and Ashley Holland, Associate Curator from the Art Bridges Foundation. “In Conversation: Will Wilson” is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In Delaware, the exhibition is guest curated by Kaila T. Schedeen, PhD Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.
DelArt thanks the members of our advisory committee for their critical input in shaping this exhibition and its programs: Principal Chief Dennis Coker (Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware); Chief Natosha Carmine (Nanticoke Indian Association of Delaware); India Colon Diaz (Taína of Boriken Nation of PR); Sherri Evans-Stanton; RuthAnn Purchase; Adrienne Lalli Hills, Independent Museum Consultant (Wyandotte Nation); Gabe Joseph Rosales; Jea Street, Jr. (Nanticoke); Victoria Sunnergren.