George Catlin (July 26, 1796 – December 23, 1872) was an American painter and traveler known for his early depictions of Native Americans in their own scenery of the expanding western frontier.
The former lawyer-turned-artist from Pennsylvania developed a fascination with America’s “vanishing race” at an early age, an interest often credited to his mother’s stories of the frontier from when she was captured by a tribe as a young girl. His was a singular example of a larger national preoccupation with Native Americans and their historical, symbolic, and literal significance in the nation’s emerging identity.
In a time right before the popularization of photography, Catlin was celebrated by Americans and Europeans alike for his intensive field research and observational artistic approach, elements that worked together to construe Catlin as a documentarian rather than artist.
George Catlin: Scenes and Fantasies of the Western Frontier includes original lithograph prints from his seminal North American Indian Portfolio (1844), accompanied with text written by Catlin himself as well as other images and text from Greenslade Special Collections and Archives. The exhibition hopes to present Catlin’s uniquely American story with a thoughtful and critical eye.
Curated by Shayne Wagner '18, the exhibition is open to the public, free of charge, during regular hours in Greenslade Special Collections & Archives in Olin Library.
Image credit: William Fisk, George Catlin, 1849.
Friday, August 11 at 9:00am to 4:00pm
Olin and Chalmers Libraries, Greenslade Special Collections & Archives
103 College Drive, Gambier, OH 43022