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White House, Canyon de Chelly
Over a long and prolific career, Laura Gilpin photographed the American West and its indigenous people in images characterized by the extraordinary arid Southwestern light. She and her life partner, Elizabeth Warham Forster, were committed supporters of the Navajo community. This photograph represents the White House, the ruin of cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Pueblo peoples at Canyon de Chelly in northeast Arizona. The site was inhabited from the 11th century to the 13th, when prolonged drought prompted its builders to leave the canyon. Gilpin interwove the relics of ancient culture with the geology of the landscape, suggesting how deeply the people related to their land. Her photobook The Enduring Navaho revealed the breadth and history of native culture, and their deep connections to the natural environment, with images made over 30 years.
from Touchstones of the Twentieth Century: A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame (exhibition, 2020-21)