In the Main gallery in October, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center presents Ishi and the River of Time, photographs by Byron Wolfe. In an extraordinary set of large-scale composite photographs, Wolfe investigates the appearance of Ishi, the legendary Yahi Indian who emerged from the wilderness near Oroville, California August 28, 1911 — marking the final days of “stone age” California. Wolfe’s photographic composites explore this significant anthropological event in California’s cultural history. Drawing upon archival photographs and contemporary views of historical sites, Wolfe reconstructs the memory and traces of Ishi in time. Using the power of digital photography, Wolfe enlivens and finesses Northern California history and the Ishi story that has been slowly transformed from “America’s last wild Indian” to America’s most misunderstood Indian.
For nearly twenty years Byron Wolfe has held a deep and abiding interest in ideas about place, history, time, perception, representation, and personal experience. In the broadest terms, his work is a combination of scholarly and historic research, creative expression, and personal narrative. He likes to think about his fields of exploration as starting with his own internal experiences and moving out from there in concentric ripples in time and space. Whenever possible, Wolfe prefers to work collaboratively on complex long-term research projects with students and colleagues in fields that range (so far) from the Visual Arts to Humanities and the Natural Sciences. His creative practice is grounded in photography and digital imaging, but he increasingly works in other media.
Byron Wolfe is an Associate Professor and the Program Director of Photography at the Tyler School of Art, Center for the Arts, at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has four book publications - one solo, three collaborative. He has designed and published interactive media and e-books. Much of his long-time collaborative work with Mark Klett can be seen on klettandwolfe.com and Thirdview.org. Wolfe has had numerous exhibitions and his work is held in many permanent collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; The Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a recipient of the Santa Fe Prize for Photography and a Guggenheim Fellow. A former resident of the West, he now lives with his wife and two boys in Villanova, PA. For fun, he is (slowly) learning to play the cello.
Byron Wolfe—Ishi: After the Archery Demostration.
After the shooting demonstration, only 100 meters from their camp,
Autumn 2012 and Summer 1914. Inset picture courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst
Museum of Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California.
Byron Wolfe—Traces of Ishi Drying a Fire Drill.
Deer Creek Canyon, May 1914 and September 2012.
Surrounding image courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of
Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California.