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Cultural identity explored in photo exhibit opening July 9 in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — An innovative photo exhibit exploring cultural identity debuts July 9 at the Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center in Las Vegas. “Find Your Folklife: We Are the Folk, All of Us,” was curated by the Nevada Arts Council Folklife Program to illustrate the vitality of folklife, folk arts, and folk communities that are resident in Nevada. An opening reception runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 9.

The exhibit features 22 photographs of Nevadans dressed to represent different cultural identities, each paired with a photograph of the same person in “everyday” dress as they might appear at home, work, or enjoying recreational activities. These photo pairs have been combined on “lenticular two-flip” panels so that as the viewer approaches, they see just one of the photos. As they begin to pass by the panel, it “flips” to the other image as though by magic. The effect is created by interleaving the images on narrow strips that are refracted through an overlying lens to create the startling “two-flip” effect. Each image pair is accompanied by a statement in the model’s own words that speaks to some aspect of cultural community or identity.

“This exhibit is a fun way to think about who we are as Nevadans in the 21st century,” exhibit curator Rebecca Snetselaar, who also photographed the models for the exhibit, said. “Cultural identity is complicated. Most of us identify with more than one cultural community and we may express different aspects of that depending on where we are or who we are with at any given time.”

Folklife, folk arts, and folklore all spring from cultural identity, which comes from belonging to a social group. Family heritage — national or ethnic — often informs a person’s sense of self. Cultural identity also may derive from language, gender, religion, age, occupation, and sense of place. Culture is something we share with others in a social group. It’s our folklife: our common values and beliefs, the creative ways we express identity in a group, the knowledge we share, the objects that hold significance and meaning, the activities we engage in as a community.

“Find Your Folklife: We Are the Folk, All of Us” can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Hallway Gallery of the Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center, 3130 McCleod Drive.

EDITORS: For an image from the exhibit, click here

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 The Nevada Arts Council is part of the Nevada Division of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. Its mission is to enrich the cultural life of the state through leadership that preserves, supports, strengthens and makes excellence in the arts accessible to all Nevadans.