"PHOTOGRAPHING PLACES OUR ANCESTORS ONCE WALKED..."
"Eugene Tapahe, Navajo, is a designer, artist and photographer, who specializes in capturing the beautiful landscape and people of the Southwest. He receives inspiration from his grandmother, family, and culture. When Tapahe is on a photo shoot, he feels his ancestors’ presence with him. He feels their love and blessings when he photographs places they once walked. Tapahe hopes you will appreciate his images and stories they tell as he continues his creative journey."
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I had a dream. I was sitting in a grass field at Yellowstone National Park watching the bison graze on the horizon as the sun set. And then, in the distance, I heard the healing sound of jingles. One by one, beautiful jingle dress dancers appeared. It was as if they were dancing with the bison to the rhythm of a silent drum. It was beautiful and peaceful.
When I awoke I felt it in my heart, this was more than a dream. I couldn’t deny it. I wanted to because it seemed impossible to obtain, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the turmoils of the racial and political differences in the world. As I retold the dream to my family they could feel it too. We knew this had to happen. We started the project with little money and lots of faith and hope it would work. It had to.
“Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project” was born. Our goal is to take the healing power of the Ojibwe jingle dress to the land, to travel, to dance and capture a series of images to document the spiritual places our ancestors once walked, and to unite and give hope to the world through art, dance and culture to help us heal. On the first photo shoot, Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni and I learned how to work together. They weren’t models. I wasn’t a portrait photographer. It was awkward, frustrating and new. But, from the moment they started to jingle dance on the land, it all changed. I felt, what I felt in my dream–beauty and peace.
I cried. I could feel myself healing from the uncertainties of the world––time slowed down. As I listened to the jingles, I knew I was where I was suppose to be. I was doing what I was suppose to do and no matter how difficult this project would be, it needed to be done.
Several months later, the project is bigger than I imagined. The support, the love, and the encouragement from all over the world is inspirational. It motivates Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni and I through our trials and difficulties while we travel on our photo shoots. It has been beautiful, emotional, empowering and most importantly, healing.
We hope you join us on this spiritual journey, follow us on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK for updates. We have t-shirts and scarves available. If you are interested in purchasing prints of our images, see TAPAHE PHOTOGRAPHY. If you would like to donate see our Venmo account: @Jingle-Dress-Project or see PayPal link below.