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Across the Indian Country: Photographs by Alexander Gardner, 1867–68

July 25, 2014–January 11, 2015

Bloch Building, Gallery L11
Admission is FREE

By the 1860s, the Plains Indians found themselves sandwiched in the middle of the country with white advancement on both sides. Rail lines cut directly through their hunting grounds–scattering the game necessary for survival. This exhibition highlights two rare bodies of work created by Alexander Gardner at this pivotal time: Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1867-68 and Scenes in the Indian Country in 1868.

The Across the Continent series was photographed first on the existing railroad line across Kansas (resulting in some of the earliest images of that state) and then along the proposed route to the Pacific Ocean. Gardner's photographs stress the benefits of railroad construction–once railroads were built, towns would follow–and suggest the possibility of successful Indian and settler coexistence.

In 1868, in an attempt to end conflict, an unprecedented gathering of tribal leaders from the Northern Plains assembled at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. For his Scenes in the Indian Country series, Gardner photographed the treaty negotiations between the government-led Indian Peace Commission and the tribes who agreed to give up land and move to reservations.


Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). General Terry, General Harney, General Sherman, Arapaho woman, General Sanborn, Colonel Tappan, General Augur, 1868. Albumen print, 9 9/16 x 12 7/8 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2010.18.11.

Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). Mushroom Rock on Alum Creek, Kansas, 1867. Albumen print, 13 3/16 x 18 11/16 inches. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). Group with Packs His Drum, Man Afraid of His Horses and Red Bear, 1868. Albumen print, 9 1/2 x 12 5/8 inches. From the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). Fire Thunder, Man Afraid of His Horses and Pipe, 1868. Albumen print, 9 9/16 x 12 13/16 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.253.

Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). St. Mary's Mission, Kansas, Pottawattamie School and Farm, 1867. Albumen print. St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL.

Alexander Gardner, American, b. Scotland (1821-1882). View near Fort Harker, Kansas, 1867. Albumen print, 13 1/16 x 18 1/2 inches. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Programs

The Curator is IN!
Gardner in the West
Friday, September 12 | 7–8 p.m.
Gallery L11 | FREE

Join curator Jane L. Aspinwall as she discusses two rare bodies of Alexander Gardner's 1867–68 work: his photographs across Kansas and the West, and the Fort Laramie treaty negotiations.

In Conversation
Through the Plains: A Discussion on Gardner's Indian Country
Thursday, December 4 | 6–7 p.m.
Atkins Auditorium | $5

Exhibition curator Jane Aspinwall sits down with Gaylord Torrence, curator of The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, to discuss Alexander Gardner's 1867-68 photographs, remarkable for the candid documentation of everyday Indian life, including encampments, burial trees, and peace proceedings.

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