Salina photographer showcases native traditions through exhibition

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A native of Salina is bringing a photo exhibit featuring Native American traditions to Kansas Wesleyan University in November.

Tanner Colvin, a 2011 Kansas Wesleyan graduate, began work on his special exhibit, Weecha, last year during the downturn in the COVID-19 pandemic.

His exhibit features Wichita War Dancer, a member of the Tohono O’dham and Ponca Nations, who has performed the war dance for several years.

Through a mix of video and stills, Colvin worked to capture the emotion and movement of the Wichita War Dancer.

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photography as art

Colvin said this style of photography differed from his typical journalistic approach. He had always done long exposures but was inspired to create work where the shutter was pulled.

“In terms of photography, I really like capturing moments in history,” said Colvin. “That slowed me down and I realized I’d been sitting in these photos for a year now, just going through the process again as an artist, not a journalist.”

Wichita War Dancer is shown at an outdoor shoot.

Wichita War Dancer has performed around the world educating groups about its culture and history. In 2021, he received a World Championship honor for his war dance performance.

Colvin said he was able to learn and share a deeper appreciation for war dancer culture and his dedication to sharing it with others.

“It’s as much about his art and performance as it is about my photography and capturing him,” Colvin said.

The show’s title “Weecha” is a term used in Native tribes when you apply a great skill to something and are excited and proud of the results.

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Colvin studied fine art photography at Kansas Wesleyan, where his last photography exhibition was in 2011. He is also a graduate of Salina Central High School.

The exhibition will be on view in the gallery at Sams Hall of Fine Arts from November 7th to December 12th. A reception is scheduled for December 2 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will include a performance by Wichita War Dancer at 6:30 p.m. in the Fitzpatrick Auditorium.

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