Beyond the Powwow: Native Dancers of the American West, Photographs by M.J. Alexander

February 7 – 22, 2014
Opening Reception Feb 7, 2014, 6 – – 9 p.m.

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“Apache North Wind” by M.J. Alexander

The Tulsa Artists’ Coalition is pleased to present the photography exhibit of M.J. Alexander entitled “Beyond the Powwow: Native Dancers of the American West.” The public will have the opportunity to meet the photographer M.J. Alexander at the opening reception on Friday, February 7-22, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm. This exhibit remains up through Saturday, February 22nd.

Regarding the subject matter of her photography, M.J. Alexander says, “American Indian dancers fascinate me. There is so much to amaze: the elaborate regalia, the mesmerizing repetition, the spiritual significance, the cultural continuity between generations. For those who listen, the heartbeat of the drum builds a bridge between the now and the then. Dancers become lost in movement, driven by the drum. Many radiate a sense of centeredness, contentment. It hardly matters whether they are competing under florescent lights at a powwow in a windowless gym, moving soundlessly in the flicker of a sacred nighttime bonfire, bobbing in ancient headdresses in the shadow of the Pueblos of the Southwest, or fancy dancing in a kaleidoscopic whirl down a heat-baked Oklahoma parade route. The result is the same: magic.

She adds, “These portraits revisit some of the dancers I have met and collaborated with over the past 15 years in my chronicling of the people and places of the American West. There are other moments I witnessed, but was asked not to photograph. For those memories, and for these images, I am grateful.”

M.J. Alexander is a writer and photographer who documents people and places of the American West. Her portrayals of Oklahoma and Oklahomans have been selected for group shows around the world – from Tonkawa to Toronto to Tianjin – and in more than 20 solo exhibitions. She was the first Oklahoman featured in a solo show in the Main Gallery of the International Photography Hall of Fame, which described her as “combining the vision of an artist with the skills of a storyteller.” Her work has been honored at the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and by the Society of Professional Journalists; her portrait of 103-year-old Thomas Jefferson Brown was named one of the top photographs in Oklahoma history. She is author and illustrator of two books: Salt of the Red Earth: A Century of Wit and Wisdom from Oklahoma’s Elders, a collection of portraits of and interviews with 100 centenarians; and, Portrait of a Generation: Sons and Daughters of the Red Earth, winner of a 2011 Oklahoma Book Award. Ongoing book projects include essays and portraits from each of the state’s 77 counties, and a new look at Oklahoma’s centenarians.”