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Shows share views of place

Harmon Gallery is exploring two different, but connected, threads in keeping with the theme of Exposure 2011: Where We Are: A Sense of Place.

Harmon Gallery is exploring two different, but connected, threads in keeping with the theme of Exposure 2011: Where We Are: A Sense of Place.

One thread leads to original photographic portraits of members of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation taken in the early 1900s by Byron Harmon, while the other follows the more recent work of his granddaughter, Carole Harmon, who for Exposure is presenting large-scale photographic collages of the Flathead River Valley, which conservation groups are pushing to have declared part of Waterton National Park.

Both Stoney First Nation: Original Hand-coloured Portraits by Byron Harmon and Surrounded: The Imperiled Flathead River Valley by Carole Harmon open at Harmon Gallery in Banff’s Harmony Lane, Friday (Feb. 4) with a reception Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

Harmon sees a link between her grandfather’s work with the Stoney people and her own as both exhibitions document people and wilderness forced into small areas surrounded by the trappings of civilization.

“With both the native show and Surrounded, in a sense I’m looking at those beings – in one they are people and in the other case they are flowers, plants and trees – what happened to the places they lived in. There is a related theme going on between the two,” she said.

“It has just struck me so much in the last year or two; we took all the native people and put them on reservations and whatever we want of wilderness, we do the same thing,and we think fair game for the rest of it,” Harmon said.

Harmon was first drawn to the Flathead Valley in 2009, but discovered getting into the valley itself was more difficult than she had anticipated.

Without an off-road vehicle, she was forced to explore the edges of the valley, approaching it from both the Canadian and American sides, and found the periphery tells more about the pressure on the valley than the valley itself does.

“If you get in (the valley is) beautiful and there is all this wildlife there and all of these things we know is wonderful about the Flathead Valley, but it is so eloquent all the way around the fringes of it, it is really obvious what the situation is,” Harmon said.

On the fringes, Harmon photographed logging, off-road vehicles, mining, hunting, backcountry lodges and cabins, all of which are stripping away the wilderness as it creeps up from the south.

“I ended up calling the show Surrounded because (the Flathead) seems to be very much like a national park – even though it is not protected yet – it is like a reservation or national park, it is completely surrounded by what civilization does with land these days. It is considered a resource and it is all used for something.”

Exposure 2011: the Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival runs Feb. 1-28.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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