I felt the need to show how Native Americans are not the romanticized ideas people still have of us. Even to this day I get ridiculous questions of our way of life or beliefs and I am wanting to help end those misconceptions. We are all individuals who express ourselves differently…we do not all look the same or even identify ourselves the same. Each of us may have similar backgrounds but we each have our own story.
Constantly seeing Edward Curtis’s biased work on Native Americans, I decided to show Native Americans present themselves. Instead of having someone else dictate what my participants wore, I had them come how they wanted to be portrayed as. There was such a beautiful variety of identities!
I chose the Van Dyke process because it was similar to the way Edward Curtis shot his (not identical in process but aesthetically similar). Each of these prints are hand coated with a variation of chemicals and then exposed with UV light.
When my professor introduced this project to us I instantly thought of Jaclyn Roessel’s (Grownup Navajo) poem, “Dear Girl Made of Honey”. Her words are so inspiring to me, she is such an incredible creative. This work is about being a bright positive light and to be confident in who you are. With this project I wanted to show how through my mother and her teachings I have become this love filled light!
The Gum Bichromate process involves mixing chemicals with watercolors of your choosing to create your image. This process was the most time-consuming due to the different layers needed for each print. The top photo with the hands is made up of 3 different layers of colors, the pink ones on the sides are made up of one layer, the print with the poem is made up of two layers and so are the ones one the outer sides.
When working through this project I thought about the colors I wanted to use and which ones would work best with the idea. The pink was to relate the work to femininity and the strong maternal aspect to the prints. Having the gold was a risky one, I was not sure if my professor would like it or think it worked. I fell in love with the gold prints because I felt it fit the “honey” part of the poem perfectly. During critique my professor said he loved the gold and had never seen anyone try to use a metallic gold watercolor. That critique went well and I was proud for not listening to my doubts!
“Dear Girl Made of Honey ++++” closeup