Matika Wilbur and Vanessa Renwick at Kittredge Art Gallery

October 12, 2010

Tacoma, Wash.In association with the 2010 Race and Pedagogy National Conference on campus in late October, Kittredge Gallery is exhibiting work  Oct. 11- Nov. 13, by two artists who address the complex and varied roles—both overt and subtle—that race plays in cultural, social, and personal interactions and the construction of self-identity.

On view in the Large Gallery is an exhibition of images by Seattle photographer Matika Wilbur. The We Emerge portfolio is a series of 12 photographs that combine traditional, stereotypical, and contemporary references to Native American culture, commenting on both broad and personal levels, on the complicated and continually shifting relationship between tribal peoples and modern American society. The series is a photographic essay exploring the complex existence of contemporary Native America—the struggle to define self-identity and the challenges of living with and adapting to constant cultural duality.

Wilbur studied photography at Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana, and Brooks Institute in California. She then received a commission through National Public Radio to photograph indigenous peoples around the world. “After that project, I decided I should photograph my own people,” said Wilbur, a Tulalip tribal member. She photographed a group of Swinomish elders and then the Tulalip, Samish, and Nooksack tribes asked her to do the same for them. Several portfolios of work grew out of these projects, including We Emerge and We Are One People. Wilbur believes that “the use of creative and revealing photography can create an exchange of identities and cultures among peoples; I devise projects to show that everyone is inextricably connected to one another; and that Native America has survived.”

Wilbur works as a freelance fine and commercial photographer (, as well as creating commissioned work regionally and nationally. Her work has been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, Burke Museum at University of Washington, Royal British Columbia Museum, and Nante Museum of Art, France. She has begun exploring combinations of photography with other media; there is a show of her mixed-media work currently on view at pun(c)tuation in Seattle.

In the Small Gallery is a video work by Portland photographer, filmmaker, and installation artist Vanessa Renwick. Renwick has exhibited her work at museums, galleries, and film festivals throughout the United States and internationally, including shows in Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany, Istanbul, Spain, and London. Her videos and installations reflect her interests in places and borders, the relationships between people and the natural world, and how the body physically experiences emotion and memory. She is represented by PDX Gallery in Portland.

Renwick’s video installation, The House of Sound, is both eulogy and wake for an iconic record store that occupied the corner of Beech and Williams in north Portland. The store was a community crossroads and landmark at the center of a vibrant African American neighborhood along Williams Avenue that included a string of jazz clubs and other gathering places. In the late 1950s, the city condemned the land for the construction of Memorial Coliseum and Emanuel Hospital. The neighborhood has since struggled to revive and faces a new wave of construction and gentrification, including the recent demolition of the building that was home to The House of Sound. Renwick’s video, shot in 35 mm black-and-white film, both mourns the loss and celebrates the former vitality of The House of Sound. The House of Sound is part of an ongoing series of portraits by Renwick of places, stories, and histories of Cascadia, with scores by musicians living in the Pacific Northwest.

Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public.

Opening Reception: Wednesday, Oct. 13, 5 to 7 p.m., Kittredge Gallery

Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma, WA
Directions and Map:
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday*
*Please note that the gallery is closed during university holidays, including fall break, Oct. 18 and 19.

Photo top right: Chenoa, Giclee print from 6 x 7 film, 2008, Courtesy of Matika Wilbur

Print-quality photos are available at Press Photos - University of Puget Sound