After the success of Powwow: Images Along the Red Road, this new book by the Marras presents more photographs and testimonies. Faces from the Land reveals the dancers, who, united by the ageless rhythms of the powwow drums, come from many tribes, different trades, and every corner of North America and celebrate customs both ancient and modern, bringing them together as a proud community to preserve tribal traditions. Since 1988, photographer Ben Marra and his wife, Linda, have crisscrossed the nation to document the majestic dance regalia worn at Native American powwows. Traveling to over 30 cities a year, Ben Marra invites participants into his makeshift studio to be photographed in full traditional dress, while Linda records the stories behind their outfits and dance. The resulting images are stunning, and capture not only the brilliant colors and incredible craftsmanship of the regalia, but the personal journeys that inspired them.
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Ben and Linda Marra are a husband-and-wife team who began to document powwows in 1988. The Marras' ongoing photography project includes a traveling exhibition for museums, two yearly calendar titles, fine art photographs, and lithographic art prints.
Scores of breathtakingly beautiful photos of dancers on the powwow trail are the most obvious treasures this book offers. For two decades, the Marras have documented Indian culture at powwows, where visually sumptuous outfits, throbbing drums, and stately traditional or expressive contemporary dance steps join to create a unique evidence of Native American pride in heritage. Ben Marra’s stunning photographs reveal that shared pride but capture as well the individual personalities of the dancers: the haughty young warrior, the mischievous clown, the shy grandmother. Dancers from tribes throughout the U.S. are included, as are examples of costumes from the widely divergent powwow traditions, such as shawl dancing, jingle dancing, and fancy dancing. Linda Marra’s text, transcribed from oral histories of the dancers, adds immeasurably to the worth of the book by providing cultural and personal context for each photograph. As in their Powwow: Images along the Red Road (1996), the Marras mix ethnography and artistry superlatively well. --Patricia Monaghan
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