Homeward, ca. 1903, Edward S. Curtis, American, 1868-1952, silver print, 9 1/8 x 12 1/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Betty C. Shattuck, 94.70

Exploring Beyond the Frame

Shot in the Hand—Apsaroke, 1908, Edward S. Curtis, American, 1868-1952, portfolio gravure, 18 1/10 x 11 8/10 in., Seattle Public Library.

Delve into the culture of the Pacific Northwest’s First Peoples through regional event series Beyond the Frame: To Be Native. 

By Julian Tsao


At the turn of the 20th century, photographer Edward S. Curtis began a decades-long project of visually recording Native peoples in what he believed was a race against time to document a disappearing race. On the 150th anniversary of Curtis’ birth, more than twenty organizations statewide revisit Curtis’ photographs–presented along with works by modern artists and photographers—to illustrate the development of Native identity and promote conversation on race, art, and culture through an array of exhibits, retrospectives, performances, and lectures in a commemoration running through early 2019.

Beyond the Frame: To Be Native offers unique insight for visitors looking to learn more about the Pacific Northwest’s indigenous beginnings and current realities of its native peoples, with a number of exhibits and events in Seattle and just a short drive outside the city.

Seattle Public Library

Living Cultures Part 1: Living Cultures of the Haida, Tlingit, Lummi, and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw – Through Apr 30

Taken across two decades, local photographer Sharon Grainger’s images explore contemporary Native existence with narratives from tribal elders. The exhibit also presents photographs from Edward S. Curtis’ 20-volume masterwork The North American Indian. 1000 Fourth Ave; spl.org

Curtis, Native Americans and the Environment – Jun 1-Aug 15

Designed with families in mind, this exhibit focuses on Curtis’ images depicting the Pacific Northwest environment and includes maps and other materials highlighting the Native American perspectives on environmental degradation and preservation. 1000 Fourth Ave; spl.org

Tacoma Art Museum

Captive Light: The Light and Photography of Ella E. McBride – Mar 17-Jul 8

Internationally acclaimed fine-art photographer Ella Etna McBride (1862-1965) was one of the most exhibited Pictorialist photographers in the world. McBride ran Curtis’ Seattle studio for eight years and her own studio for more than 30—see 60-plus of her stunning images on display and learn about her influence on Washington’s early photography culture. 1701 Pacific Ave, Tacoma; tacomaartmuseum.org

Suquamish Museum

Deconstructing Curtis – May 18-Jan 14

This exhibit on the Port Madison Indian Reservation explores the stories behind Curtis’ famous photographs from the early 1900s, juxtaposing his posed images with historical photos taken from the same time period. 6861 NE South St, Suquamish; suquamishmuseum.org

Seattle Art Museum

Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson – Jun 14-Sep 9

Featuring more than 100 works by Curtis, this major exhibition also presents the work of local contemporaries considering his legacy from a modern artistic perspective. *1300 First Ave; seattleartmuseum.org

Museum of Northwest Art

In Red Ink – Jul 7-Sep 22

Presenting the work of more than 20 contemporary Native artists, this exhibit north of Seattle in La Conner challenges stereotypical depictions of Native peoples in the Northwest and beyond using a spectrum of mediums, speaking to topics spanning pop culture to politics. 121 N First St, La Conner; monamuseum.org

Museum of Glass

Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight – Oct 1, 2018-Oct 1, 2019

In a dynamic, immersive exhibit blending artwork and storytelling, visitors can view Native glass artist Preston Singletary’s work inspired by the narrative of the revered creation myth of the Tlingit people, Raven and the Box of Daylight, enhanced by audio and visual elements. 1801 Dock St, Tacoma; museumofglass.org


Download Visit Seattle’s Native Heritage Guide,
a year-round resource for exploring and learning about Northwest Native History and Culture.

Native American Cultural Heritage Guide to Seattle

For more information on the commemoration’s scheduled events and programming, visit Beyond the Frame’s official website at beyondtheframe.org.


*Visit Seattle Partner


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