Hampton Roads Academy Upper School students took a new look at the Amazon through the eyes and lens of anthropologist Dr. Glenn Shepard Jr., a 1983 graduate of Hampton Roads Academy.
Shepard, who is also a photographer and an Emmy Award winning filmmaker, visited campus in late November to share his experiences living in villages in the Amazon. He and his guest from South America, indigenous filmmaker, Krakrax Kayapo spoke with students in more depth during lunch.
Shepard, who attended Princeton University and received his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, is an ethnobotanist, medical anthropologist and filmmaker who has worked for over three decades with different indigenous peoples of the Amazon, among other tropical regions. He has made numerous documentary films including the Emmy-Award-winning Discovery Channel production “Spirits of the Rainforest.”
Shepard's topics of study have included traditional medicine, shamanism and hunting practices. He has particular interest in helping the indigenous communities adopt modern technologies in ways that benefit their traditional way of life. Together they have developed clean water systems, craft sales and filmmaking to enhance and preserve their culture. Since 2009, he has been an ethnology curator at the Goeldi Museum in Belém do Pará, Brazil.
Glenn Shepard, along with Krakrax Kayapo, and Nancy Santullo, former fashion photographer and now director of the NGO Rainforest Flow, hosted an opening reception and fund raiser at the Linda Matney Fine Art Gallery in Williamsburg. The gallery features work from indigenous photographers and filmmakers as well as Shepard’s and Santullo’s own photography and indigenous art collections. The exhibit, “ANCIENT TRADITIONS, MODERN LIVES: Amazonian Indigenous Peoples in the 21st Century,” is open through January 27 at the Linda Matney Fine Art Gallery in Williamsburg. For more information, visit www.lindamatneygallery.com.
"Mr. Shepard was a very interesting person to hear from because of all the open-mindedness he practiced throughout his schooling and career, something that is rare and ultimately inspiring. It was also easily recognizable that he was engaged with his audience and his material, and it was extremely interesting to have someone from the tribe with him who could also answer questions. After his visit, I also went to his gallery (exhibit) in Williamsburg, and got to talk more about his experiences with him there. He quickly engaged in conversation with me, and was able to answer any of my questions as well as tell me stories about his life in the jungle. I am interested in following a similar path as he did with my major, and he was more than willing to answer my questions about schooling and similar aspects of it," said HRA junior Rose Houlahan. 'Overall, I really enjoyed meeting him and getting to speak with him, and am very appreciative of the work that he does.
John Lee Matney, a friend of Shepard’s and also a 1983 HRA grad, is the curator and owner of the Linda Matney Fine Art Gallery. He hopes that visitors of the gallery will respond to the beautiful photography, but also get a chance to see indigenous culture through the native peoples’ own eyes. The concurrent contemporary exhibit features W&M and VCU professors of painting, sculpture and photography. These works are also part of the fundraiser. The main message is that indigenous peoples of the Amazon are alive and well in the 21st century.