Pablo students capture tribal history, community through a lens

2013-11-14T12:49:00Z 2013-11-15T16:12:10Z Pablo students capture tribal history, community through a lensBy KENDRA COUSINEAU Missoulian The Billings Gazette
November 14, 2013 12:49 pm  • 

MISSOULA — A new exhibit is now on display at the Zootown Arts Community Center that shows the Flathead Reservation through the eyes of its young residents.

For the past 12 years, middle and high school students from Two Eagle River School in Pablo have teamed up with photographer David Spears to capture their community and culture through various photographing processes.

Two Eagle River School focuses on traditional culture from various tribes and is an elective school for students living on the Flathead Reservation. Through four different photography techniques, Spears worked with a couple teachers to make the photography part of the curriculum that can complement other learning opportunities, such as poetry.

One of the areas the students focused on was cyanotype, where the students would mix iron salts that would then become light sensitive. After applying the mix to a receptive surface such as watercolor paper, the solution is first dried in a dark place, and then exposed to sunlight that creates an insoluble blue dye.

There are also colored photos paired with poetry the students wrote, pinhole photographs that the students took using a camera they built themselves, and the traditional black and white film.

“The students created a document of the community. In most cases, the photographer comes in from the outside, documents the community and leaves,” Spears said. “We actually have an archive of our work, which we will be turning over to the tribe for their archives.”

What started out as 50 photographs in the exhibit has now turned into at least a hundred.

“We tried to give a little bit of the flavor of all the different kinds of pairing,” Spears said.

Spears said the real focus is to have a monograph, a detailed book featuring all the students’ work, hopefully out by the end of the year.

The exhibit is on display now until the end of November at ZACC, 235 N. First St. W., during their regular business hours, 12-6 p.m.

Kendra Cousineau is a journalism major at the University of Montana and an intern in the Missoulian newsroom.

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