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Jeffery M. Thomas (b. 1956), Diptych: Traditional Dance and Empty Chair, Buffalo, 1986; color & gelatin silver prints, 7 x 5 inches (Frame: 17 1/8 x 21 1/8 inches); The M&T Bank Collection at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1991

Jeffery M. Thomas (b. 1956), Diptych: Traditional Dance and Empty Chair, Buffalo, 1986; color & gelatin silver prints, 7 x 5 inches (Frame: 17 1/8 x 21 1/8 inches); The M&T Bank Collection at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1991

In 2001, Jeffrey M. Thomas said, “Photography became my means of collecting evidence for future generations, to say that this is the world I saw as an urban-Iroquoian.” His political strategy has been to counter the skewed history of the First Nations in Canada by white photographers with work that speaks from personal experience. There is often a narrative quality to his diptychs or series that critiques the past, but lauds the future as it is embodied by young people who proudly investigate and promote their heritage. In this work, poverty and despair represented by the empty chair is surpassed by an active dancer in ceremonial clothes and makeup to celebrate imminent prospects with dignity.—Nancy Weekly, 2005