Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes by Ed Drew Sensationalist Portrayals of the Modoc War, 1872-73


The People of Klamath

Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes by Ed Drew

July 21, 2016 – November 27, 2016

Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes by Ed Drew is a series of portraits of members of the Klamath, Modoc, and Pit River Paiute tribes (tribes that were originally in California and southern Oregon). Drew was commissioned by a tribal mental health worker to photograph during several of intensive “talking circle” weekends in which participants recounted their experiences with racism, abuse, drug addiction, crime and tragedy. In their stories, Drew found connections to his own struggles with his identity as an African American. He was also drawn to the larger history of conflict between Native Americans and the United States government.

As Drew explains: "I am producing 5x7 tintypes of Klamath Falls tribes as part of a commission to redefine the tribal people in the area as no longer the victims of the injustices brought upon them by the U.S. government, but as strong and powerful people of today." By using the tintype process, a popular portrait medium in late nineteenth century America, Drew connects the past to the present and re-contextualizes contemporary Native Americans as the protagonists of their own stories.

Drew won the trust of Modoc tribe members when he ran fifteen miles alongside them (in sandals) during a relay race to Lava Beds National Monument, the site of the Modoc War (1872–73).

In addition to Drew's Native Portraits, CHS presents Sensational Portrayals of the Modoc War, 1872–73, an exhibition drawn from its collections of vintage photographs, newspapers, and books that often sensationalized the war, including carte de visite portraits by Louis Heller of Modoc Indians in custody following the war and stereographic views by Eadweard Muybridge (who was commissioned by the government to document the war) showing the desolate Lava Beds and picturing non-Modoc Indians reenacting battle scenes for his camera.

Ira Nowinski, Philip Roth, Fourth Street, 1973
Ira Nowinski, Philip Roth, Fourth Street, 1973, gelatin silver print, collection of the artist

Janet Delaney, Mercantile Building, Mission and 3rd Streets, 1980
Janet Delaney, Mercantile Building, Mission and 3rd Streets, 1980, printed 2016, pigment print, collection of the artist


Photographing South of Market: Ira Nowinski and Janet Delaney

Ira Nowinski and Janet Delaney photographed San Francisco's South of Market in the 1970s and 1980s during a massive push to transform what was once a working class neighborhood and light industrial zone into the business and entertainment district it is today.

This installation is part of Neighborhood for Art, a self-guided walking tour celebrating the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's (SFMOMA) expansion and opening this May. Listen to Avery Trufelman, a producer with the design podcast "99% Invisible," as she leads an exploration of how SFMOMA fits into the neighborhood. Neighborhood for Art is available only through the SFMOMA app. Download it for free at


Art of the West Exhibition
The Autry in Griffith Park
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles
Free to California Historical Society Members

Visit the California Historical Society Gallery at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. The CHS Gallery is part of the permanent exhibition Art of the West , which showcases the dynamic and evolving world of art that springs from the cultural practices of some of the many peoples who have shaped the American West. The CHS Gallery features selections from CHS's fine arts and costumes collections that are permanently housed at the Autry. This collaboration has assured the exhibition and conservation of significant works of art from the CHS Collection by some of America's best known nineteenth and early twentieth-century artists (including Albert Bierstadt, James Walker, and Maynard Dixon) as well as turn-of-the-nineteenth-century costumes. The Art of the West exhibition is the first of its kind to explore how shared values and interests have inspired artists from different cultures and times to create distinctive, powerful works that speak to their experience of the West as both a destination and a home.

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