Two Gila River photographers show the Community through their eyes
July 1, 2016
Thomas R. Throssell
Two young Gila River Indian Community members are allowing Huhugam Heritage Center visitors a peek into how they perceive their own culture and lands at a photography exhibit titled I’agchulith heg eth Jevedga: Our Land Offerings, which will be on display through August 12.
The exhibit, which is split into two separate displays, showcases the photographic works of artists Richard Stone, 19, and Anissa Garcia, 21.
Richard Stone, who comes from District 5 and found much of his inspiration for his photographs during long walks through the desert.
“That was the time I wasn’t really doing anything, just school and coming home,” Stone said. “It was boring and I don’t like to just sit around and watch TV. I like to say active…and walk around Vah-Ki and take pictures.”
Stone’s photographs depict the Community’s natural landscapes, vegetation, and areas typically unknown to the average person.
“No one really recognizes Gila River for what it could be. They think it is just dried up and there is nothing, but, in the little corners you can find beautiful nature.”
While Stone’s exhibit showcased the Community’s natural beauty, Garcia’s captured its culture.
Garcia, who comes from District 3, said her interest in photography began in middle school and continued on into high school where she took photography classes.
Garcia’s photographs all portray women holding traditional O’otham baskets with their faces hidden or turned, which she says, is so the viewer focuses their attention on the baskets.
And while taking photographs for the exhibition, Garcia found the motivation within herself to learn more about her own culture and try her hand at the older and more traditional art of basket making.
“Myself, I am a basket dancer,” said Garcia. “I dance with the Gila River Basket Dancers [and] I wanted to focus on the basketry of the O’otham people. I have always wanted to learn how to make my own basket and with this exhibit, it only pushed me to [do] it, so now I’m learning to make my own baskets,” she said.
For more information about the exhibit call the Huhugam Heritage Center at 520-796-3500.