October 27, 2016 — A threadbare flag flapping in the wind, a broken pitchfork in an empty room, spindly trees looming in fog … John Willis’s photographs are stunning and stark.
“Views from the Reservation,” the new exhibition in The Gallery at the Rhodes Arts Center, features images Willis shot on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, tribal home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux people.
The exhibition opens Oct. 28 and will continue through Nov. 18.
An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 pm. The RAC gallery is open 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 1 to 5 pm on weekends.
Some images in this collection — such as a ramshackle log cabin under threatening clouds — show America’s vast income inequality. Others — the time-worn faces of tribal elders or children gamboling on a trampoline — mirror resilience and joy.
Willis not only makes his own images, but also helps others make their own. As Marlboro College’s photography professor, he has taught the art to everyone from first-graders to nursing-home residents. Willis was cofounder of The In-Sight Photography Project, and its Exposures Cross Cultural Youth Program, two nonprofit programs that teach photography to adolescents regardless of their ability to pay.
Image (detail): "New Deal Mural, Pine Ridge High School, SD" (2004)