Mining the Museum: Cigar store Indian facing portraits of community members of American Indian descent
The image depicts works on display in "Mining the Museum," a 1992-1993 installation by artist Fred Wilson at the Maryland Historical Society. In Mining the Museum, Wilson used the museum's collections to confront and challenge perceptions about history, culture, and race. It was a joint exhibition with The Contemporary in Baltimore.
On display is a rear view of a "Tobacconist's Figure", circa 1879, by Baltimore woodworker John Philip Yeager. The figure once stood outside of a tobacco shop on Madison Avenue, near Biddle Street, in Baltimore. In this scene, the figure faces portraits of members of the local community who are of American Indian descent. The sculptural stereotypical depiction of the Indian stands with their back to the viewers and instead faces the "real" American Indians whose portraits hang on the wall. In this tableau, the sculpture serves as a "portrait" of the cigar store owners who chose to display such sculptures outside their stores.