A new photography exhibition is spotlighting American Indian sites found throughout Long Island.
Local Native American artist Jeremy Dennis spent more than a year on the research and photography that went on display Saturday at the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead.
Dennis, 27, a Southampton native who lives on the Shinnecock Reservation, said he was inspired to look into his heritage while studying at Penn State University to be an artist.
“When you’re doing artwork and you’re trying to find your own voice, you ask yourself, ‘Who am I? What’s my message?’ ” Dennis said. “I couldn’t really answer all those questions in detail when I started.”
Dennis paid for the project, which includes a website, frames and other materials, with a $10,000 Dreamstarter grant from the Virginia-based American Indian nonprofit Running Strong for American Indian Youth that he received in April 2016.
He spent 14 months photographing places of American Indian significance and history in Aquebogue, Sag Harbor, Orient and Flanders, among other locations. His primary goal, he said, was to use art to increase curiosity about Long Island’s American Indians and create dialogue between indigenous and nonnative people.
“Some people don’t even know there’s a reservation or a museum” in Southampton, Dennis said. “This project is all about creating awareness and the continued presence of my people.”
Heidi Rain, 67, and Tom Oleszczuk, 68, both of Noyac, were at the Riverhead museum Saturday taking in the photographs. Oleszczuk, a longtime photographer, said he was impressed by several of the images. And he said he enjoyed learning more about the history of some of those sites from the pictures.
Rain, who said she was “very excited” to hear about the exhibition, said she would love to see it displayed in such places as Southampton, East Hampton and other Long Island venues.
“[The exhibition] shows there’s so much about Native American history that people still don’t know,” Oleszczuk said.