Light of the Hopi

Light of the Hopi is a rare collaboration with members of the Hopi tribe. Historically, the Hopi have rarely allowed themselves to be photographed. The work has been deeply collaborative, with guidance from my Hopi partners, especially elders in the community. We’re experimenting together, and learning a lot as we go. Given the long history of exploitation, racism, and persecution that the Hopi have endured, this collaboration is delicate in nature. I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know people without involving cameras, and I’m happy to have developed true friendships. I hope that our mutual trust will ultimately support us in producing a body of work that is authentic and meaningful, both to Hopi, and to people outside their culture.

We are offering fine art photographs for sale, with 50% of proceeds going to the individuals and cultural groups photographed. We are also producing a book that will share the photographs alongside text written or narrated by subjects of the photographs, offering Hopi perspectives on the personal, cultural, political, and spiritual themes explored by this work.

The Hopi are revered worldwide for having retained remarkably intact complex cultural and spiritual traditions, in an unbroken lineage. Hopi spirituality permeates everyday life and the entire calendar year. Their in-depth knowledge of dry farming techniques are invaluable in the face of climate change. They nurture a profound connection with the land they live on, the land of their ancestors, and our planet. Techqua Ikachi! is the creed of the Hopi Traditionalists: “blending with the land and celebrating life.”

The Hopi nation, alongside other tribes in the American Southwest, is now facing an increased threat to its lands and way of life under the current presidential administration, which is responsible for the largest removal of federal land protection in U.S. history. At a time when lands sacred to the Hopi (sites like Chaco Canyon, which has been likened to Egypt’s pyramids, the Grand Canyon, and many others) are being threatened like never before, Light of the Hopi seeks to highlight what we are at risk of losing.

We are exploring both classical portraits as well as photographs with a more documentary or editorial approach. So far, we have only done a handful of shoots, primarily focusing on classical portraits in their ancestral lands. According to cultural preservation theory, the more people learn about and are moved by the richness of a culture, the more likely they are to want to help preserve it. Classical portraits can show the breathtaking beauty of Hopi culture, while more intimate, documentary explorations of every life can reveal more diversity and depth.

If you’d like to get in touch about the project or have any questions about the prints, feel free send me an email at: erikarand@gmail.com. Thank you for your interest in Light of the Hopi!


Warmly,

Erika