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Matinee: 'Finding Myself, My Heritage Within Me' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

21 May 2022

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 449th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Finding Myself, My Heritage Within Me.

In this 4:27 video, Chicago photographer Hector Maldonado introduces his 2019 exhibit at the Harold Washington Library Center, part of the Chicago Public Library.

He introduced that show with this artist statement:

The photographs in this show are both very personal and very public. They are about what my heritage means to me. They are about the culture that we share and the way the culture leaves its imprint on individuals in their most public and private moments.

It is my hope that these photographs will give viewers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of Native American people. My journey has been spontaneous and unpredictable; subject to the people I happened to meet, my travels, the access I gained, my interest at any particular moment. Infinite choices were made in the subject matter, in the point of view, in the moment I pressed the shutter.

Maldonado was born in Chicago in 1962. His mother was a Native American and his father Mexican. Through his mother, he is part of the Alabama Coushatta nation from Texas. His uncle was chief and his aunt played a prominent role in the tribe.

His interest in photography came from his father. He started pursuing photography as an avocation after holding his father's camera for the first time at the age of eight.

"From then on," he says, "the world was the ground glass, and it was only a matter of time until I left my desk job to pursue photography full time."

He was inspired as a boy by the images he saw in National Geographic, but to make a living he trained as a chemical reactor operator.

He grew up in Chicago where his parents had moved to find work so until he was 14 he didn't know any other Native Americans. Then the family started going to pow wows.

And he started photographing them.

The exhibit featured his images of Native Americans. He didn't think much of it at the time but as the years went by, the images became more and more important as a record of a culture that itself was disappearing.

Native American culture has nevertheless persevered despite time and concerted efforts to eradicate it. Maldonado's images are an important page in that historical record.

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