WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 7, 2017 – Four hundred years after the 1617 death of Pocahontas in England, her image and legend live on. Using depictions of Pocahontas from across the centuries, Jamestown Settlement will present “Pocahontas Imagined,” a special exhibition opening July 15 that illuminates the reasons behind her enduring legacy as well as her impression on popular culture and art.
The renowned Powhatan Indian who befriended English colonists in Virginia in the early 1600s has been immortalized in art, song and story. Born about 1596, Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, supreme chief of more than 30 tribes in coastal Virginia. Several years after converting to Christianity and marrying Englishman John Rolfe, Pocahontas became ill and died at Gravesend, England, in March 1617.
In “Pocahontas Imagined,” visitors will encounter Pocahontas as a real Powhatan Indian girl, who in life became a symbol of successful colonization and who in death inspired legends of Virginia history and American folklore. Her images have been used to promote a range of unrelated causes.
The special exhibition, which will run through January 28, 2018, will feature artwork inspired by Pocahontas, as well as memorabilia, advertisements and interactive experiences, including opportunities for visitors to step into a cutout of an oversized 1907 postage stamp featuring Pocahontas’s image. Visitors will be able to see Pocahontas’s likeness and her portrayal in the 20th century through a variety of media. Her image has been used to market merchandise, from oranges and cranberries to tobacco and coal. The exhibition also explores Pocahontas’s impressions on modern-day Virginia Indian women.
A special children’s area in the exhibition will allow young visitors and families to experience Pocahontas’s life as a little girl in a Powhatan Indian village and try art-related activities, such as weaving, decorating clay pots on a chalkboard wall, and learning about hunting and gathering. Young visitors also will receive an activity card that they can take outdoors to explore artistic patterns, lines and colors in objects in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, three 1607 English ships and colonial fort. The exhibition is supported in part by a grant from James City County.
“Pocahontas Imagined” also will feature a public lecture series in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Three lectures on September 5, September 13 and October 3 will begin at 7 p.m. in Jamestown Settlement’s Robins Foundation Theater.
The public lectures include:
September 5: “Pocahontas in Image and Myth” – Karen Sherry, Art Historian and former Curator of American Art for the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and Associate Curator of Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
September 13: “Reel Indian: The Portrayal of Native Americans in Film” – Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Statewide Manager, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
October 3: “Corrective Lens: Native Women Photographers and the Debunking of the ‘Vanishing Race’ Myth” – Johanna Minich, Adjunct Curator of Native American Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round. 2017 admission is $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. A value-priced combination ticket with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, is $23.00 for adults and $12.00 for ages 6-12. Parking is free.
Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission to Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with proof of residency.
Admission to the evening lectures is free. Advance reservations are recommended at (757) 253-4572.
Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 near the Colonial Parkway in James City County, just southwest of Williamsburg and adjacent to Historic Jamestowne. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit https://www.historyisfun.org/jamestown-settlement/pocahontas-imagined/.