ROYAL W. (ROLAND) REED, JR. (1864-1934) was one of a small number of professional photographers now known as "Pictorialists" who set out to document Native Americans, the "vanishing" race. Employing new artistic techniques and often posing their subjects, the Pictorialists re-created the "noble savage" as they imagined them to have been in the past, not as they presently found them.
Reed lived with and photographed the Ojibwe in Minnesota; the Blackfeet, Piegan, Flathead, Cheyenne, and Blood in northern Montana and southern Canada; and the Navajo and Hopi in Arizona. He had begun work on the publication of his collection with the title Reed's Photographic Art Studies of the North American Indian at the time of his accidental death. This unfinished work is the genesis for ALONE WITH THE PAST, which realizes Roland Reed's dream.
Roland Reed has been far too long in the shadow of other "Shadow Catchers." His photographs are true masterpieces of the photographic art that tell a story much larger and broader then just what is depicted.
--Paula Richardson Fleming, Smithsonian Institution
Mr. Lawrence's exhaustive search for primary documents and historic photography [has become] Reed's biography. . . . [ALONE with the PAST] comes as close to a catalogue raisonne as will be for Roland Reed.
--Sandra Starr, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Although there has been much criticism of the staging of Native models, I find this argument irrelevant. Instead, I view the photographs as a rare opportunity for Native people to see a part of their culture that has passed.
--Joe Horse Capture, Associate Curator of Native American Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Retired businessman and amateur historian Lawrence compiles the work of pictorialist photographer Roland Reed (1864-1934)--much of it never previously seen by the public—and pairs it with the artist's own words. Lawrence uses Reed's correspondence, text from photo exhibitions, and handwritten notes to reveal the artist's motivations for photographing Native American subjects and to explain the staged quality of the photographs--and the occasionally drastic measures he took to construct the scenes. Pictorialism prioritized the evocation of emotion over realism in Reed's photography, and his comments provide insight into his artistic process and the influence of the pictorialist movement on his work. Lawrence supplies the biographical details of Reed's life, artfully punctuated by Reed's photographs of the Ojibwa, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Flathead, Navajo, and Hopi. VERDICT An arresting look at an early 20th-century artist's portrayals of Native American life as it was in the 19th century and earlier and his manipulation of the increasingly settled landscape to produce romanticized images of Native Americans. Aficionados of Reed's contemporaries Edward Curtis and Richard Throssel and readers of Native American history will find the work of particular interest. --Rachael Dreyer, American Heritage Ctr., Laramie, WY