Larry McNeil (photographer)

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Larry McNeil
Born Larry Tee Harbor Jackson McNeil
(1955-05-12) May 12, 1955 (age 62)
Juneau, Alaska, United States[1]
Nationality Tlingit-Nisga'a[1]
Known for Photography, printmaking

Larry McNeil (born Larry Tee Harbor Jackson McNeil[3]) is a Native American photographer and printmaker. His photographs range on subjects and formats from realist portraits to tribal elders, from abstract cityscapes to electronic manipulations of tribal environments. His images are considered personally meaningful as they are representative of tribal realities and highlight the sensitivity behind the representation of Native Americans.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Larry McNeil was born in Juneau, Alaska on May 12, 1955 into the Killer Whale House, Keet Hit, of the Northern Tlingit and was raised in both Juneau and Anchorage, Alaska. This made him a member of both the Tlingit and Nisga'a tribes.[5] He received his education from Brooks Institute School of Photographic Art and Science in Santa Barbara, California.


Larry McNeil describes himself as a product of both the traditional Tlingit culture and mainstream North America, with an emphasis on the Tlingit aspect.[6] In 1983, he worked with Alaska Native Foundation and produced Yupik Eskimo women weaving distinctive grass baskets. Later in 1986, He created seventeen portraits of tribal clan leaders in Northwest Arctic School District. In the same year, he was nominated as vice-president of Native Indian Inuit Photographers Association; he was also an instructor in Institute of American Indian Arts as well as a commercial photographer.[4]

McNeil previously taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts and is currently an associate professor of photography at Boise State University.[5]


McNeil's sequence of photographs titled Fly By Night Mythology was well received. Emeritus Professor of American Literature, Mick Gidley, commented that the sequence "represents both recovery of history and, photographically, creation through revision" in a manner that "frames in photographs - both old and new - a national myth that incorporates the first Americans". The sequence features a series of archive photos from McNeil's family history of growing up in white culture juxtaposed with images of his Tlingit tribe members, as a representation of his own mixed ancestry and of the relationship between the two histories.[7] The early photographs in the work are also a symbolic representation of traditional Tlingit stories, featuring examples of "Raven the Changeling and Trickster playing the protagonist", along with representations of interactions between Chief Pontiac and George Washington.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 1983: Award of Excellence, Public Relations Society of America
  • 1983-86: Merit Award, Advertising Federation of America
  • 1992: Outstanding Photographic Technical Quality and Outstanding Outdoor Photography, Native Inuit Photography Association
  • 2006: "All Roads" Photography Award, National Geographic[8]


  1. ^ a b "Larry McNeil." Tamarind Institute of Lithography. Accessed 1 April 2014.
  2. ^ Larry, McNeil (1998). Native North American Artists. Detroit, MI: St. James Press. pp. 373, 374. 
  3. ^ a b "Fellowship artist profile: Larry McNeil (Tlingit/ Nisgaá)". Eiteljorg Museum. June 6, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Larry, McNeil (1998). Native North American Artists. Detroit, MI: St. James Press. 
  5. ^ a b Williams, Maria Sháa Tláa (January 1, 2009). The Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 272. ISBN 9780822390831. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Hebel, Udo J.; Wagner, Christoph (2011). Pictorial Cultures and Political Iconographies: Approaches, Perspectives, Case Studies from Europe and America. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 247–249. ISBN 9783110237856. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ "'National Geographic' Recognizes Art's McNeil" (PDF). FOCUS. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University. Fall 2006. p. 13. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 

External links[edit]