Re-imagining American Identities aims to provoke thoughtful discussion among visitors about how we collectively define ourselves as Americans, both as individuals and in relationship. Drawing from the Museum’s extensive collection of photographs, a veritable national portrait gallery of America’s many faces greets the viewer. Who is Dorothea Lange’s “Ex-Slave with Long Memory, Alabama” and how might her life-story interact with that of Jack Welpott’s farmer twins sitting silently on a porch? In another pairing, Edward S. Curtis’ 19th century portrait of a Chaiwa-Tewa woman speaks to Douglas Kent Hall’s photograph of a young girl on the day of her first communion. As a nation founded on principles of religious freedom, how do differing conceptions of the sacred inform our collective identity? In addition to these portraits, five thematic groupings—Children, Violence, the Civil War, Domesticity and Ritual—invite us to explore how we relate to one another.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has generously provided funding in support of this exhibition.