Colvin exhibition, ‘Weecha,’ at KWU features Wichita War Dancer

Colvin exhibition, ‘Weecha,’ at KWU features Wichita War Dancer
<b>A photo of Wichita War Dancer.</b>&nbsp;Photos courtesy Tanner Colvin&nbsp;&nbsp;
A photo of Wichita War Dancer. Photos courtesy Tanner Colvin  

Salina Post

A desire to learn a new photography technique has led to a gallery exhibition for Salinan Tanner Colvin.

Weecha, a blend of photography and videography opened today in The Gallery at Kansas Wesleyan University.

The exhibition features Wichita War Dancer, a member of the Tohono O’dham and Ponca nations who has been performing the war dance for several years. Wichita War Dancer has traveled across the world, performing and educating groups about his culture and its history. In 2021, he earned a world championship honor for his war dance performance.

A public exhibition reception is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Dec. 2 and will include a performance by Wichita War Dancer at 6:30 p.m. in Fitzpatrick Auditorium.

Colvin, a 2011 graduate of Kansas Wesleyan, said the exhibition evolved from his desire to learn a new photography technique: shutter drag.

Colvin explained that shutter drag both freezes and blurs motion.

“So he started out and I opened the shutter. A flash went off and then he had 20 to 30 seconds to move around. Once he moved around, that’s where you get the kind of blurry motion I call ‘watercolor.'”

After finding a YouTube video on how to use shutter drag, Colvin began looking into who he might know who danced, leaning more toward traditional dance, such as ballet. Colvin said he happened to stumble across Wichita War Dancer on a Kansas photography Facebook group and contacted him about being the subject of a photo shoot using shutter drag. The two exchanged several emails and phone calls and Wichita War Dancer agreed to the photo shoot.

The two met at Salina’s Stiefel Theatre in early 2020 and Colvin spent approximately six hours making photos while Wichita War Dancer danced.

Colvin said he was quite pleased with how the photographs turned out.

“The name of the show, Weecha, is a Native American term that means ‘to be proud of significant accomplishment,'” Colvin said. “This is my first show since college, so this space is a little different to me. Usually my stuff is very ‘shoot it and get it done’ journalism.”

While the two were busy with the photo shoot, they talked about what would happen next with the photos.

“I had wanted to do some smaller prints to show off his regalia, because in these bigger ones, you don’t really get to see what he is wearing. A lot of it is homemade,” Colvin said.

From there came the idea of also including a video of Wichita War Dancer dancing.

“I figured that if people can’t be here on Dec. 2 to see him dance, they might not get the motion and emotion that he has in this dance, so that’s where the video came into play,” Colvin said.

The video, which Colvin recorded himself, includes a short interview with Wichita War Dancer.