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Artist Talk: John Willis – Combining Social Documentary Photography and Community Engagement (Online)

August 16, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

$8.00 – $12.00
Man in blanket with teepee in background

Historically there are many easily arguable reasons photographers should choose to make work of their own lives rather than tell stories of others. During divisive times, I struggle to find means of acknowledging my place and respecting others. At the same time, I want to learn while broadening my horizons and collaborating with others to build bridges between communities, while still respecting ethical processes and storytelling. This talk will attempt to share my thinking while showing some of the project work I have produced, predominantly from the publication Mni Wiconi, Honoring the Water Protectors and the Ongoing Struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty. Willis’ work, “Requiem for the Innocent” and a sampling of the Water Protectors Book will be exhibited at Gallery Kayafas, opening in September.

Cover image © John Willis.

About John Willis:

John Willis Portrait

John Willis is a photographer who was a professor of art at Marlboro College from 1990 until his retirement in 2020. He has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Photography and many other grants, and his photographs are in more than sixty collections among them the Amon Carter Museum, Center for Creative Photography, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Paul Getty Museum, Heard Museum, High Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and Whitney Museum of American Art. His other books include Mni Wiconi / Water Is Life: Honoring the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and Everywhere in the Ongoing Struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty (George F. Thompson Publishing, 2019), Views from the Reservation: A New Edition (George F. Thompson Publishing, 2019; originally published in 2010 by the Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago), and, with Tom Young, Recycled Realities (Center for American Places, 2006). Currently his collaborative book project Requiem for the Innocent, El Paso and Beyond is being printed. The book is a collaboration with writer Robin Behn and composer Matan Rubenstein (George F.Thompson Publishing 2020). More info at:

See Lenscratch article 8.1.2020

“Focus on the Story” in collaboration with Zeke Magazine tackle the debate of “Can an “outsider” tell the story of a people or future? Lekgetho Makola, Niama Safia Sandy, John Willis, Glenn Ruga have a worthy discussion. Take a look before tuning in to John Willis’ talk in the Griffin’s Vaporhood.




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August 16, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
$8.00 – $12.00
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