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“For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw” Portrays 20th-Century Oklahoma in Black and White

Poolaw Captured Moments of the Everyday Life of Rural American Indians

October 12, 2016

“For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw” is a retrospective of work by photographer Horace Poolaw (Kiowa, 1906–1984), whose black-and-white images document Native Americans of rural Oklahoma with affection while providing insight into the values of community life of his time. Through the themes of portraiture, community, family, military and performance, the exhibition gives a glimpse of Native life in 20th-century Oklahoma. The exhibition will open at the National Museum of the American Indian Friday, Nov. 11.

Poolaw demonstrates the contemporaneous presence of American Indian communities in all aspects of American life as full participants in the nation’s history and character. Spanning some 50 years of life on the Southern Plains of Oklahoma (1920s–1960s), Poolaw’s photographs reveal the warmth of local family and community while also demonstrating the mobility and involvement of Native peoples nationally in events such as World War II and the advent of consumerism. He also showcases regional cultural events, such as the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko, Okla.

The exhibition is curated by Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk) and Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache) and includes 75 framed photo prints and eight graphic prints.

The accompanying exhibition catalog, For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw, edited by Mithlo, features 16 essays from scholars, photographers and family members, sharing stories of Poolaw’s life and interpreting the significance of his photographic legacy. The visual 184-page book is available in Smithsonian museum stores and through the Bookshop section of the museum’s website.

Symposium

Decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran Robert “Corky” and Linda Poolaw (two of Poolaw’s four children, both Kiowa/Delaware), will discuss Poolaw’s photography, with particular attention to his pictures on the subject of American Indians and the military, demonstrated in his compelling and insightful images of generations of Native servicemen during the wars in Europe, Korea and Vietnam. Poolaw’s grandson, contemporary multimedia artist Thomas Poolaw, will join the conversation with an exploration of his grandfather’s work and reflection on his artistic and cultural legacy. The museum’s Alexandra Harris (Cherokee) will moderate. Book signing to follow.

For more details about the museum, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu. Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, its Twitter accounts for Washington and New York and Instagram

 

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SI-521-2016

© 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw.

Media only   
Eileen Maxwell  
202-633-6615 
maxwelle@si.edu

Lisa M. Austin  
202-633-6613 
austinl@si.edu

Close up of young man in Navy uniform wearing a headdress
Related photos: 

The photography of Horace Poolaw: Gus Palmer and Horace Poolaw

Gus Palmer and Horace Poolaw wearing headdresses

© 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Gus Palmer (Kiowa, at left), side gunner, and Horace Poolaw (Kiowa), aerial photographer, in front of a B-17 Flying Fortress. MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, ca. 1944.  45UFL14  © 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

 

Related photos: 

The photography of Horace Poolaw: Jeryy Poolaw

Young man in Navy uniform wearing headdress

© 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw. Reprinted with permission.

Jerry Poolaw (Kiowa), on leave from duty in the Navy. Anadarko, Oklahoma, ca. 1944. 45HPF173 © 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw. Reprinted with permission.”

 

Related photos: 

The photography of Horace Poolaw: Robert and Linda Poolaw

Robert and Linda Poolaw as children

© 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

Robert “Corky” and Linda Poolaw (Kiowa/Delaware), dressed up and posed for the photo by their father, Horace. Anadarko, Oklahoma, ca. 1947.  45HPF57 © 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw

 



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