Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

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Visual Arts

Dancing for My Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in Modern Times

Rockefeller Chapel, Daily
Sunday April 20 to Friday May 16
Artist’s reception, Sunday April 27, 12:30-3 pm

A Photographic installation by Sharon A. Hoogstraten

Sharon Hoogstraten, photographer and tribal member of Citizen Potawatomi Nation, writes:

My photographic portrait project of Potawatomi Indians in regalia is the story of wholly modern people (originally inhabitants of the Great Lakes region) preserving the traditional dress of their ancestors whilst also relating it to contemporary living. My intention is create images so compelling that they become the record for our place on the timeline of Potawatomi and American history. I want to portray the evolution of our ancestral dress interpreted by descendants who live in a world of sewing machines, duct tape, favorite sports teams, and service to our country. Indian regalia is not a re-enactment or artifact of the past, but uniquely created design informing our future.

I strip away all distractions, maximize detail, and create a look reminiscent of the Indian Country studio postcards of a century ago. I look for an honest moment with each individual — sometimes conveyed in stillness, or by a delayed recognition of motion, ranging to outright exuberant dance. In these photographs, our children’s children will see the striking symbolism and techniques of our time, just as we look back at the dress and demeanor of those who lived before us. Further, we have the handwritten reflections of each person who posed, a priceless addition to each portrait. This presentation of the faces, stories, and regalia of modern Potawatomis contributes to the understanding of their transformed place in the diverse life of America.