May 11, 2005 Zig Jackson Is First Contemporary Native American Photographer Represented at the Library of Congress
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jennifer Brathovde (202) 707-8852
Zig Jackson became the first contemporary Native American photographer to be represented in the Library of Congress’ collections when he recently donated 12 large silver gelatin prints. Although there are nearly 18,000 images of native people in the Prints and Photographs Division, this is the first group of contemporary photographs acquired by the Library taken by a Native American.
“Zig Jackson is funny, talented, sensitive and very sharp,” said Jennifer Brathovde, reference specialist for Native American images in Prints and Photographs. “His work has made me laugh and cry. It comes from his genuinely big heart and his poignant sense of family history. We are extremely grateful for Jackson’s gift.” (Two of the photographs may be viewed at links provided at the end of this release.)
Jackson teaches documentary photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia. Born in 1957, the seventh of 10 children, Jackson was raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. He is an enrolled member of three affiliated tribes: Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.
Jackson’s donation to the Library includes four photographic prints from each of three photographic series. In all three series, Jackson addresses issues confronted by contemporary native nations — including tourism, land rights and sovereignty, and tribal traditions — with the profound insight of an artist representing his own culture.
In the “Indian Photographing Tourist Photographing Indian” series, Jacksonpokes fun at the unwittingly intrusive tourists who aim their cameras in the faces of reservation Indians. The darkly comic “Entering Zig’s Indian Reservation” series shows Jackson in various locations (including on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco), wearing a full Indian headdress and sunglasses, posing next to a large, official-looking sign that reads: “Entering Zig’s Indian Reservation.” Under each sign, a list of “Private Property” rules includes “No Picture Taking” and “New Agers Prohibited.” In the final series, “Native American Veterans,” Jackson documents somber honor ceremonies of military veterans and their families on Plains Indian reservations.
Jackson has said that art was a major part of his childhood. In 1994, he completed his master’s degree in photography at San Francisco Art Institute. In recent years, his work has been widely exhibited and published. It was included in many of the first important presentations of photographs by native artists, including “Strong Hearts: Native American Vision and Voices,” sponsored by the Aperture Foundation. The “Strong Hearts” exhibit traveled nationwide, originating at the Smithsonian Institution in 1996.
Jackson’s work is also in several public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, N.M.
The following photos are available for viewing:
“War Mothers,” is from Jackson’s “Native American Veterans” series. This photograph documents a 1995 honor dance performed for Howard Crow Flies High and Leroy Crow Flies High, military veterans from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. War mothers are women who have lost a relative in a war.
The second photograph is “City Hall, San Francisco, CA 1997,” from Jackson’s “Entering Zig’s Indian Reservation” series.