Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis

Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis

by Laurie Lawlor
     
 

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Many Native Americans photographed by Edward S. Curtis (1868–1952) called him Shadow Catcher. But the images he captured were far more powerful than mere shadows. When the twentieth century was just getting underway, Curtis began documenting North American Indian culture in words and photographs. Today, almost one hundred years later, his work still stands

Overview


Many Native Americans photographed by Edward S. Curtis (1868–1952) called him Shadow Catcher. But the images he captured were far more powerful than mere shadows. When the twentieth century was just getting underway, Curtis began documenting North American Indian culture in words and photographs. Today, almost one hundred years later, his work still stands as the most extensive and informative collection of its kind. His photographs are more than mere documents; they are works of art revealing subtleties of human expression missing from other historical and anthropological records. Filled with Curtis’s breathtaking photographs and available for the first time in a paperback edition, Shadow Catcher traces Curtis’s life and work from his boyhood in Wisconsin, through his first photo expedition to Alaska in 1897 and the completion of The North American Indian collection in 1930, to his death in 1952.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lawlor (Addie Across the Prairie) engagingly chronicles the life and work of photographer-ethnologist Edward S. Curtis (1868- 1952), perhaps best known for his 20-volume The North American Indian, a collection of photographs and written histories of the tribes he spent more than 30 years studying. According to Lawlor, Curtis sacrificed much for his determination to record a culture he believed to be on the brink of extinction. The lively text focuses on his struggles, from his beginnings as a studio photographer in 1890s Seattle to his neverending quest for financial support from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, to his patience in winning the trust of the people he sought to memorialize. Although openly admiring, Lawlor does not shy away from more problematic aspects of Curtis's career-she acknowledges that he staged events for the camera and posed his subjects, and that his obsession with his mission impoverished and eventually unraveled his family. The exquisitely designed book (printed in sepia on cream paper) contains scores of Curtis's haunting photographs, as well as portraits of Curtis and his family. Ages 10-up. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
A beautiful volume for older readers (and adults) who will spend hours examining the magnificent sepia photographs taken by the man who faithfully devoted himself for thirty years to fastidiously compiling a photographic record of vanishing cultures.
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10Lawlor illuminates the life of the man driven to complete the monumental project of documenting in photographs, words, and sound recordings the Indian cultures of North America (it took him 30 years). At the same time, she portrays the compelling plight of Native Americans in the early part of the 20th century. The reproductions of the sepia-tinted portraits and landscapes of the ``Shadow Catcher,'' the sobriquet applied to the man by the peoples he photographed, are outstanding. The combination of history and artistry will enlarge the audience for this title. More than a reference and more than a biography of Curtis, this carefully researched, highly readable book emphasizes the photographer's perseverance and quest for quality and can serve as a model for young people.Nancy E. Curran, Decatur Public Schools, IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803280465
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
11/28/2005
Pages:
132
Product dimensions:
7.98(w) x 10.02(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author


Laurie Lawlor has published more than thirty-four books for children, young adults, and adults, including Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, and a memoir based on natural history, This Tender Place: Story of a Wetland Year.

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