“Historically it has been outsiders who have taken these photographs of Native Americans. We have generally been represented with beads and feathers; this example can be seen through the extraordinary photographic portrayals of Edward Curtis. While this is an aspect of our life, the emphasis of my current body of work is focused on the members of my tribe and the environments in which they live, giving a name and face to the individuals and their way of life in our own time. […] I am ever mindful of my responsibility to the tribe and to carry on a sense of pride about who and what we are as a people.”
— Tom Jones
A member of the Ho-Chunk nation, Tom Jones, explores the complexities and contradictions inherent in the representation of American Indians. His focus explores and interweaves the complexity of native identity and examines how distorted perceptions and portrayals of native culture have globally shaped the notion of what it looks like and means to be “Indian”.
For his latest series, Remnants, Jones has paired photographs, gathered from over 100 native casino carpets, with historical illustrations etched on glass. “The etchings themselves become a “remnant-“, writer Stacy J. Platt observed in “Exposure Magazine”, “a literal trace of the racist, America-first, genocidal and xenophobic past-that-still-exists-in-the-present regarding the legacy of our post-colonial thinking.” The photos of the casino carpets flanking the etched glass images allude to the sovereignty of the Indian Nations. The dialogue between these two speak to what has happened in American history and the future of what is to come for Indian communities.
As with all of Tom Jones’ oeuvre, Remnants does not speak to a single point of view but to the complexity of events, influences and perceptions, past and present.
The photographs of Tom Jones are in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, Polaroid Corporation, Sprint Corporation, The Minnesota Institute of Art, The Chazen Museum of Art, The Nerman Museum, and Microsoft among others.