Artists’ Group Monthly Show: November 2019
Artist of the Month: Joel Davis “Pictures of Our People”
(encore photoshow — originally shown at Tamastslikt Cultural Center)
Artist’s Reception: Sunday, November 17th, at 6:00pm, following Jazz Vespers
St. James member, and former Oregonian photographer, Joel Davis displays archival photos spanning 25 years on the Umatilla Reservation in Eastern Oregon. “The late 1970s were a great time on the Reservation, a time of re-discovery and resurgence of traditions that were on the verge of being lost. Young men were seeking out the elders to resurrect the ways of the old religion — the Washat — as conducted by Smowhalla and his ghost dancers from back in the 1800s.
It was an exciting time to witness — but there were conflicts and cross-currents. My presence was welcomed, but photography was not allowed. A book written about the religion in the ‘50s, “Drummers and Dreamers”, could not be found anywhere — the library’s copies were always gone — liberated from the prying eyes of outsiders.
That’s why these photos are so meaningful to me — aware that this was a historic moment, those guys rebuilding the longhouse and the religion felt the time had come to document their gathering together. It’s one of the blessings of my life that I was invited to join with them, to document their continuing commitment to their ancestral way of life.
I could say more — but it’s not really my story to tell — these young men (and women) were proud of their identity and rebuilding the institutions that promoted the values that define a culture — respect for Mother Earth, the salmon, the values of a traditional life and the heritage provided by generations of ancestors.”
— Joel Davis
Note: The photos in the display are not for sale. Please support St. James Artists by donating directly to the Artist’s Group.