Alexander Gardner created dramatic and vivid photographs of battlefields, which included images of the recently dead. These shocking Civil War-era images continue to haunt the national imagination. After the war, Gardner went west, creating unforgettable pictures of western landscape and portraits of American Indians.
J.J. McCracken performs a conceptual portrait of Anne Newport Royall. Royall, one of America's first female journalists, was arrested in 1829 for arguing in public. Her trail is part of a broader history of silencing, particularly of women.
James Luna(b. 1950, Orange County, California) portrays Ishi (d. 1916), the last member of the Yahi—Native Americans indigenous to Northern California. Luna and Sheila Tishla Skinner not only pay tribute to the man known during his lifetime as "the last wild Indian" but also give voice to indigenous women.
Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989) began her career in New York City at the center of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1940s and 1950s. She painted abstractly, like her husband, Willem de Kooning, and other artists of that generation. However, she was best known for her painterly, gestural portraits.
Martha McDonald (b. 1964, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) features handcrafted costumes and objects that are activated by the acts of singing, making, and ultimately undoing her handwork as "woman's work." Her performance at the Portrait Gallery is presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner Photographs, 1859–1872."
Wilmer Wilson IV(b. 1989, Richmond, Virginia) is recognized internationally for his investigations of race. As he slowly covers his body with everyday objects that adhere to his skin, he asks us to think about the historic meanings of black skin in the United States.