|Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2012-05-20 23:43Z by Steven|
Heather Waldroup, Associate Professor of Art History
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
In 1909, a series of photographs by Honolulu portraitist Caroline Gurrey was exhibited at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. The photographs, which combine elements of the Pictorialist style and ethnographic photography, are portraits of young men and women of either Native Hawaiian or mixed-race heritage. The archival record indicates that the photographs were purchased in Honolulu by a member of the Exposition’s administration, and Gurrey’s original intention for them is currently unknown. Nevertheless, the author argues that through their display at the AYPE – an exposition that stressed industry, expansion and commerce as its key themes – Gurrey’s portraits served a significant role in the articulation and visualisation of the Exposition’s central goals and the United States’s desires for settlement of the newly-acquired Territory of Hawaii by bourgeois white agriculturalists.
A portfolio of portraits of Hawaiian teenagers created by Caroline Hawkins Gurrey in 1909 tells a rich story about the intersection of American imperial interests and the persuasive powers of photography in the early twentieth century, Gurrev was already a successful portrait photographer in Honolulu when this portfolio was selected to be exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacifc Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle during the summer of 1909. She photographed a number of Honolulu’s elite, such as Sanford Dole, using the Pictorialist style, and was known for producing various photographs documenting life in contemporary Hawai‘i. The fifty photographs in the Hawaiian Types’ series—now held at the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives—were chosen and displayed by the AVPE’s administration to illustrate Hawaii’s racial landscape for a very large audience of fairgoer. The photographs’ style which combines tropes of ethnographic photography with the aesthetics of Pictorialism, underscores a key goal ol the AYPE: to combine supposed truth with aesthetic beauty in order to market Hawai‘i to potential settlers of the relatively new American territory…
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