Through Art, Tom Jones Seeks Visibility for Ho-Chunk People

“My mission is just to get more visibility for our people,” says Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), a Madison, Wisconsin–based artist and university professor. And 2022 has yielded striking success in this regard: his photographs—which are often overlaid with glass beads following designs passed down in his family—has brought images of Indigenous people to high-profile exhibitions including Water Memories at the Met, The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today (featuring his second-place photo in the accompanying Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition) at the National Portrait Gallery, and his mid-career retrospective, Here We Stand, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Tom Jones’s photo Elizah Leonard (2019) won second prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

As the Wisconsin State Journal’s Gayle Warland writes:

While the Ho-Chunk were the original inhabitants of the Madison area, Jones said, “We were removed over seven times by the government, further west to various places. But they just kept coming back,” he said. With his new show at MOWA, “I really want to show that we’re still here. That’s why I decided on the title ‘Here We Stand,’ because it’s a gesture (showing) that we’re still on this land.”