By Tim Leeds
The Clack Museum Art Gallery in the Heritage Center is premiering a traveling display of photos of Rocky Boy's Reservation by John Well-Off-Man this month.
Well-Off-Man said he wants to "introduce Rocky Boy Reservation to the outside world, so to speak. You get a glimpse of what we have out there."
He added that even though many people in Montana have heard about Rocky Boy, they have never been there. Well-Off-Man, an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, said people taking photos in Montana often take pictures of other reservations, but "Rocky Boy Reservation, for one reason or another, always seems to be left out."
He is displaying 35 black-and-white photos. The display is scheduled for display in Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls in October and at the Davidson Honors College of the University of Montana in Missoula in January.
The display is split into themed groups from the reservation, such as children at Rocky Boy, the agencies and services there, and the mountains, including Mount Baldy and the ski area. Well-Off-Man said he wanted to stay away from stereotypical images of Indians. "You don't see anybody in buckskins and feathers," he added.
He said he wanted to show that people at Rocky Boy are just like everybody else, with schools, jobs, computers and homes.
"People are basically like everybody else out there," he said. "We are with the 21st cenury like everbody else."
Well-Off-Man said he prefers black-and-white photos for displays because of their durability and their greater impact on the viewer. He added he tries to include a documentary effect, a specific intent and an artistic inpression in each photo.
"Three different things I want to say in one package," he said.
He wants the exhibit to travel around Montana and outside of the state as well. He said he is developing a brochure he can send to galleries and museums to try to get venues to exhibit his work.
He would also like to use the photographs in a book. He said he would like to interview people on the reservation about living and working there, and publish the interviews with the photos.
Well-Off-Man said he started working with photography about 30 years ago.
Some pieces painted by Vernon The Boy will be on display in the Clack Musuem Community Exhibit Art Gallery during August. There are several new pieces added to the pieces that were on display in July.