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For over 25 years, from 1878 until his death in 1903, Ben Wittick photographed the Indian world of the Southwest. Shadows on Glass brings together for the first time over 200 of Wittick's most essential images accompanied by an extraordinarily insightful and graceful text by Patricia Janis Broder, well known for her writings and lectures on the American West.
Shadows on Glass documents the closing days of the Southwest frontier, a time of irrevocable change for the Indian peoples that Wittick visited: Hualapai and Havasupai; Mohave and Yuma; Apache; Navajo; Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna, and Isleta; Zuni; and Hopi. Wittick's photographs, divided into field studies and posed portraits, capture the historical, cultural, and psychological realities of this transitional era. Although the field studies focus on daily life in the Indian world, the portraits offer greater insight into the fundamental truths of Indian life in the Southwest. The photographs-relying heavily on costumes, artifacts, painted backdrops, and foreground props-document an incredible confusion over cultural identity.