Will Wilson, a Diné photographer, is using the art form to shatter common misconceptions about Native Americans and force onlookers to reflect on their personal prejudices.
Utilizing the same tin type and sepia editing techniques photographers in the past used to photograph Native Americans, Wilson creates intriguing images of his subjects. By doing this, the artist blends historical photography methods while capturing images of Native Americans living in today’s world.
An Introspective Photography Exhibit
The goal of Wilson’s new exhibit, In Conversation: Will Wilson, is to take an honest look at how Native Americans were represented in the past.
Essentially, Wilson wants his audience to look at historical photographs of his people and observe the historical significance.
Wilson observes, “People don’t want to deal with the traumatic reality of history, of genocide, of attempted ethnic cleansing.” That said, he wants to show that in the modern world, there are plenty of Native Americans involved in important and society-altering things.
Applying Contradiction to Attract Attention
The primary element that makes Wilson’s exhibit so intriguing is his use of contradiction. For example, the photographer utilizes an old photography technique to capture images of modern-day Native American people.
By implementing a photo process similar to the one used in the past, Wilson’s photos immediately draw in the audience and force them to take a closer look.
According to Wilson, his objective is to encourage the viewer to take a moment of introspection. He wants his audience to reflect on how they currently think about Native American people.
Additionally, Wilson hopes viewers address what myths they hold about Indigenous people and why those beliefs still exist in their life.
Why Wilson’s Exhibit is Critical for Positive Change
Not only is Wilson’s latest exhibit a beautiful work of art, but it also carries heavy cultural meaning and encourages a positive shift in the way the public views Native American people.
For example, Wilson challenges people to step outside their current worldview and alter their perceptions about the Native American community. Also, the photographer is spreading awareness attached to the misconceptions that continue to exist today.
Lastly, Wilson’s exhibit addresses the embarrassing lack of representation of Native Americans in the media and art world. Therefore, the photographer provides a more accurate Indigenous representation through his exhibit.
In Conversation: Will Wilson is currently available to view at the Delaware Art Museum until September 11, 2022.