Art exhibit in San Francisco aims to right cultural wrong

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new art exhibit is opening Friday night in San Francisco, but rather than just entertain it's designed to correct a cultural wrong.

At first glance, some of the black and white photos in the Continuous Thread exhibit appear to be a walk back into history. But in reality, they're modern artworks, meant to correct it.

First, it helps to understand that the new exhibit at The San Francisco Art Commission's main gallery was inspired in part by a controversial sculpture.

The work, called Early Days, with its depiction of a Native American lying at the feet of a missionary was removed from Civic center. To offer a different view, curators decided to profile modern Native Americans here in the Bay Area.

"So I really wanted to feature who the Indian, who the Native community is here," says curator Carolyn Melenani Kuali'i.

Three Photographers captured dozens of subjects. One of them, Britt Bradley, used a 19th-century photography process-- transporting her subjects into the kind of portraits originally created by euro-centric photographers more than a century ago.

"I think part of that was really about shifting narratives. Indian people are often relegated to the turn of the century. And that we are vanishing Indians. And this artist, her approach really tries to take that process and reclaim it," says Barbara Mumby-Huerta of the Arts Commission.

Other photos capture the vibrant contributions of Indigenous Peoples today. From the women who run the San Francisco Native American Health Center to members of Two Spirits Network, who advocate for LGTBQ people in Native American communities across the country.

An interactive exhibit brings the names of Native American communities alive, in a moving projection. But the lasting theme of the exhibit might be Justice. Captured by the scores of Native American's who sat for portraits-- at the empty base that once supported Early Days.

The exhibit runs through December 14th, and is free to the public.
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