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May 7, 2021

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Photographer and Social Documentarian Matika Wilbur to Talk About “Seeds of Culture” at June 3 Presentation at Mount Baker Theatre

Melding powerful storytelling with video, photography and song, Matika Wilbur (Tulalip and Swinomish), will expand on her experiences photographing Native American women from across the hundreds of sovereign Nations she has visited over nearly a decade. This free, in-person presentation will take place June 3, 2021, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre in downtown Bellingham. This presentation and the theatre will be following CDC guidelines, as well as recommendations developed specifically for the theatre industry, including distanced seating and increased ventilation.

The presentation is the signature event of the Whatcom Museum-hosted exhibition “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” by Matika Wilbur on display through June 13, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building. Wilbur's talk will give context and background to some of the 28 photographs of Native American women featured in the exhibition.


Dr. Mary Jiron Belgarde Lore, Pueblo Of Isleta And Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, 2014. Photo By Matika Wilbur For Project 562. Courtesy Of The Artist.

Dr. Mary Jiron Belgarde LoRe, Pueblo of Isleta and Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, 2014. Photo by Matika Wilbur for Project 562. Courtesy of the Artist. 


Wilbur is the only photographer to be welcomed into more than 500 Native American sovereign Nations in the United States. For the past nine years, she has collaborated with scores of tribes to share the images and truths of Native peoples through Project 562. In “Seeds of Culture,” Wilbur has curated striking photographs of Native women from among the thousands of portraits she has taken in recent years for the project. Written narratives and audio excerpts of the interviews she conducts accompany the photographs.

Through her talk, Wilbur will touch on specific lived experiences shared by the women who have sat for her portraits. These include reflections on conversations with Dr. Mary Jiron Belgarde LoRe (Pueblo of Isleta and Ohkay Owingeh), who has committed her life to “stop[ping] the assimilation process” produced by colonial education systems, and Dana Eldridge, Dine’ (Navajo), a young anti-fracking protester and Navajo Walker, among many more.

Wilbur's presentation will be held Thursday, June 3, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial Street. The event is free, but ticket registration is required. Registration opens Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. at mountbakertheatre.com/online/article/seedsofculture.

Registration is offered in paired seats of two, and a few groups of four. Single ticket holders will have to reserve two spots, so booking with a friend or partner is recommended. Seating is limited due to Covid-19 capacity limitations at the Mount Baker Theatre. Face coverings are required throughout the entire event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event. A livestream of the event will also be available. This presentation is hosted by the Whatcom Museum with promotional support from Whatcom Community College.

“Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” is on exhibit through June 13, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. The Museum invites the community to see the exhibition prior to Wilbur’s event. The Museum is currently open for general admission at 50% capacity, Thursday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibition, admission, and Covid-19 safety protocols visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

This community presentation is made possible with support from Art Bridges, a private arts foundation dedicated to expanding access to American art across the country. The exhibition is presented by the Lhaq’temish Foundation, Lummi Nation, with additional support from Jean Andresen, Rafeeka & Neal Kloke, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and Grantmakers for Girls of Color.

About Matika Wilbur: Matika Wilbur, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, has exhibited extensively in regional, national and international venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France. She studied photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and received a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Her work led her to becoming a certified teacher at Tulalip Heritage High School, providing inspiration for the youth of her own Indigenous community. Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes (Washington), is unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country—the insight, depth and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelatin photographs. Her collection of photographs and narratives from Project 562 is soon to be published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. Learn more about Matika at www.matikawilbur.com, Project 562 at www.project562.com, or on her Instagram account. Wilbur is also the co-host of the podcast, All My Relations.

About the Whatcom Museum: The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham's downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open at 50% capacity due to Covid-19 safety restrictions Thursdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 PM. Admission to the Museum is free to members, $10 for general admission, $8 for youth (6-17)/students/military (with valid ID)/Seniors (62+), $5 for children 2-5 years old and free to children 2 and younger. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit whatcommuseum.org.


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