October 05, 2009

Through the Lens: Diné Photographers

Expression the Diné way

Diné photographers take their place on the other side of the lens

By Cindy Yurth
For nearly two centuries, Native Americans have been the subjects of photographs. But when a prominent Western museum called Navajo Nation Museum exhibit curator Clarenda Begay and asked for the names of some Navajo photographers, "the only one I could think of was Leroy Dejolie," she said.

That got Begay thinking. If even Navajos don't know their own photographers, what hope do they have of getting discovered by the rest of the world?

Begay approached her boss, museum director Manuelito Wheeler, about hosting an exhibit of Navajo photographers.

Wheeler was enthusiastic and he and Begay came up with the idea of a juried exhibition--one in which awards are given--to let the cream rise to the top.

The result, "Through the Lens: Diné Photographers," on display through next March, exceeded their expectations.
Comment:  For more on Native photography, see Neda Video and Native Images and The Father of Native Photography.

Below:  "Tiffany Bah Charley's 'Undiscovered I' seems to look back at museum visitors Tuesday in Window Rock. Work by Charley and other photographers are on display at the Navajo Nation Museum in the exhibit 'Through the Lens: Diné Photographers.'" (Special to the Times--Donovan Quintero)

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