Cybelle Codish Takes Her Stills of Native Americans to the Smithsonian

FOCUS GROUP: When Cybelle Codish was asked by a friend to shoot stills for a documentary being made on Native-American traditions in New Mexico, the Detroit-based freelance photographer saw it as an opportunity to see culture through a different lens.

“There’s a sense of mystery surrounding modern Native Americans and their culture as it currently exists,” Codish says. “[This] was my opportunity to be on a reservation with unrestricted access — the chance to go inside an otherwise-closed community to learn about their lives, their traditions, and about our country’s history through their eyes.”

While she hopes her work with the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico will help her gain access to tribes in Michigan, it has already earned her a spot in a different kind of “closed community”: the Smithsonian Institution. An exhibition of her work was displayed at the National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City coinciding with the premiere of the documentary — titled Grab — at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January.

The images shown here include a sampling from the exhibit and some never-seen shots.