May 21, 2011

Photos portray "Concrete Indians"

Photographer Nadya Kwandibens Looks at Skins in the City with ‘Concrete Indians’

By Lisa Charleyboy“Does being a Native person in the city affect your identity?” This is the question photographer Nadya Kwandibens (Ojibwe) seeks to explore in her photo series “Concrete Indians.” Kwandibens’ photographs (produced under the banner of her company Red Works Studios) have been commanding a lot of attention on Turtle Island lately, and the ‘Concrete Indians’ series has proven particularly resonant.

It all started in May 2008; Kwandibens was pondering the usual stereotyped images of Native peoples shown in mainstream media and she wanted to challenge those portrayals. “As an artist, I can promote a more positive image of all the diverse nations and all the different cultures that are us,” she says. “When I first thought of this series, I had goose bumps, because it made me feel so good—I was like ‘I have to share it.’ I am just going to throw this idea out there and see what happens. So I sent out a mass email about it and within 10 minutes I got three replies back.”

That’s when she knew she was onto something. Her concept was simple and open-ended: “Portraits of the urban Indian experience.”
Comment:  Creative people can't do enough of these stereotyping-busting projects. Not until every American has gotten the message, at least.

For more on the subject, see Curtis Photos vs. Smiling Indians, Modern Indians Are Less Native?, and Photos Challenge Native Stereotypes.

Below:  "Jacob Pratt walks the city streets wearing a jacket, tie and roach in a photo from Nadya Kwandibens' 'Concrete Indians' series."

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