The photographs include an image of Jack Moore, a Pima dancer, with the American flag painted on his face; a portrait of the dancer Kevin Haywahe (Assiniboine) wearing a wolf-hide and feather headdress with beaded sun wheel medallion and beaded appendage, elaborate face painting, pipe bead necklace and elaborately beaded breast ornament; an outdoor view of a young boy posed beside grafitti that reads "Cultural Revolution"; a young man standing in front of a grain elevator and wearing a t-shirt with an image of Christopher Columbus and the caption "Founder of the New World"; and a triptych documenting the urban Onondaga Iroquois experience in Ottawa, Ontario.
Prints: organized in folders; arranged numerically by image number
Born in 1956 in the city of Buffalo, New York, Jeff Thomas identifies himself as an urban-Iroquois. His parents and grandparents were born on the Six Nations reserve, near Brantford, Ontario, and eventually left the reserve to find work in the city. It is this experience of an urban-Iroquois that has come to define his work; Thomas seeks to re-contextualize commonly circulated historical images of First Nations people for a contemporary audience. In his words: "Ultimately, I want to dismantle long entrenched stereotypes and inappropriate caricatures of First Nations people."
Thomas was the subject of a solo exhibition, Jeff Thomas: A Study of Indian-ness, circulated by Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (Toronto), which travelled to galleries across the country. In 2008, his work was also featured in a survey exhibition, Drive By: A Road Trip with Jeff Thomas, at the University of Toronto Art Centre, and his work can be found in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Indian Art Centre (Ottawa), Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), Musée de l'Elysée (Lausanne, Switzerland), Museum der Weltkulturen (Frankfurt, Germany), Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey), The British Museum (London, U.K.) and The Ottawa Art Gallery. In 1998, he was awarded the Canada Council's prestigious Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography and in 2008 he received the Karsh Award in photography.
Researchers must contact the NMAI Archives for an appointment to access the collection. Contact information below.
Copyright: National Museum of the American Indian.