Matika Wilbur

Tribe: Swinomish / Tulalip
Based In: Seattle, WA
Social Media: @project_562

About the Art
we will not rest
hoping is not enough
our resilience shall prevail
together we rise
our ancestors always behind us
Today the Keystone XL pipeline was approved, just a few short days after a
massive oil spill in South Dakota. We cannot feed our children oil.

About the Artist
Matika Wilbur worked in primary education at the Tulalip Tribe tribal school for five years. There, she experienced the lack of educational resources, and that the curriculum being taught did not provide Native youths with positive imagery and understanding about their heritage. This experience inspired Project 562. Project 562 elevates Native identity and culture through portraiture. To capture the spirit and essence of her portrait sitters, Matika spends several hours or even days with a participant, often even residing in their home. She honors traditional potlatch protocol, bringing gifts to honor traditional trade culture, and she shares songs and prayers. Sitters choose their portrait locations, most frequently at geographically-remote reservations, but also within urban settings. An oral history accompanies each portrait, capturing the subject’s unique experience. These relationships reveals an intimacy in Matika’s portraits—unlike popular street photography or classic journalism—an approach Matika describes as an “Indigenous photography method.” Photographs are captured on traditional black-and-white film and shot in the zone system. Once developed, they are printed on silver gelatin fiber and hand-colored by Matika with oil paint. The craftsmanship of each image is a time-honored process that, in keeping with her shooting method, honors the traditional artisanship of black and white photography.