Photography exhibit coming to Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will host “We’re Not Telling You Everything: Words and Images from the Wichita Mountains” for the month of August.

The exhibition, which includes photographs by Don House and Sabine Schmidt and poetry by Sy Hoahwah, will kick off with a reception and artist-led gallery walk from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, in the Institute’s Flagstone Foyer. Admission to the reception, which will feature both House and Schmidt discussing their work, is free, though preregistration is required.

“We’re Not Telling You Everything” is the result of a three-year collaboration. House created 16 classic black-and-white portraits and is showing them as traditional silvergelatin prints.

Schmidt’s 13 digital color images of human interactions with the landscape are presented as archival pigment prints. All were made during frequent visits to the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma. The collection of poems by Hoahwah offers a different perspective. A member of the Comanche Nation, Hoahwah has a connection to the Wichitas that spans generations.

“This exhibit captures some of the themes that have been foundations for many of the Institute’s programs,” said Janet Harris, director of programs for the Rockefeller Institute. “Themes like importance of place and the intrinsic link between humanity and the land we occupy. We feel privileged to host this exhibit and share it with our audiences.”

The photographers were drawn to the Wichita Mountains by the area’s history, its landscape and its people. It is the place where some of the last Indian wars were fought. The first national wildlife refuge was created there to save the bison. It is the home of the U.S. Army’s Fort Sill training base, the location of a gold rush and the final resting place of Native American leaders Geronimo and Quanah Parker. It is a microcosm of the history of the nation and its westward expansion.

“The Wichitas series is like nothing else I’ve worked on as a photographer,” Schmidt said. “It is my first collaboration, my first long-term project not set in a city and the result of working in one of the most challenging locations I’ve been in. The light is different; Oklahoma skies and clouds are big, and often the contrasts are harsh, fooling the eye and brain that hesitate to believe the light meter.

“The region’s many layers of natural and human history don’t reveal themselves easily; once I learned to give up control, I found places and stories through a form of drifting and through many happy accidents.”

House explained some of his inspiration for the project and credited the collaborative nature of the work as adding to its beauty and power.

“I spent several formative years in that Oklahoma region and the next 40 years trying to get back,” House said. “It is a powerful place – visually, spiritually, historically. It is not unusual, as an American, to feel pride and shame, awe and wonder together within any 24-hour period. My love of the place also makes for a burden of responsibility as an artist, a duty to portray it with honesty, to do it justice – an impossible task without the collaboration of photographer Sabine Schmidt and poet Sy Hoahwah. Their perspectives – one as a German immigrant discovering the American West, and one as a member of the Comanche Nation – are what makes the exhibition, this collection of images, vibrant and alive.”

More information about the exhibit, including a link to register for the opening reception on Aug. 3, can be found at