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Louise Siddons
Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK 74078-1016)
The Visual Politics of Navajo Sovereignty: The Work of American Photographer and Artist Laura Gilpin (1891-1979)

Completion of a book on American photographer Laura Gilpin (1891-1979), documenter of the American southwest and Navajo life and culture.

My book manuscript, "Good Pictures are a Strong Weapon," analyzes the role prominent modernist photographer Laura Gilpin (1891-1979) played in documenting and interpreting Navajo (Diné) sovereignty for white audiences at midcentury, comparing it with the work of Diné artists engaged in discussions of Navajo cultural and political sovereignty today. Gilpin moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1945, prompted by personal as well as professional considerations, as the city was a center for lesbian as well as Indigenous culture in the Southwest. By the 1940s, Gilpin had established herself in photographic circles as an authority on the prototypically modern southwestern landscape, and on the people and material culture of the Pueblo and Navajo nations that surrounded her. Gilpin had begun working on the Navajo Nation when her partner, Elizabeth Forster, accepted a job there in 1931. She subsequently spent over three decades developing her 1968 book, The Enduring Navaho.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Native American Studies; Women's History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/15/2020 – 7/14/2020