Kids' Drop-In Activity
1 to 3 pm Saturday, September 21

The Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center will present “A Silhouette Says a Thousand Words,” a drop-in kids’ activity from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Admission, materials, and treats will be free.

Kids will practice the art of silhouette cutting, an early photographic method from the 1800s. Using landmarks from the Lewis & Clark Trail as subjects, kids will create silhouette cuttings and design a watercolor background for the landmarks (or create their own).

Before digital cameras and selfie-sticks, people had the “physiognotrace.” With this instrument, artists were able to create a very precise profile, or silhouette, of an individual. The artist could then add more details to the profile. Notable figures such as President Thomas Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis had their silhouettes created using a physiognotrace.
“There are only a handful of portraits of Captains Lewis and Clark from their lifetime,” says Sara Olson, the Center’s Education Coordinator. “The silhouette of Lewis gives us a unique insight at Lewis’ facial features and the fashion of the times.”

Charles Saint-Memin, a French portraitist, was well known for his silhouette portraits. He is known to have made portraits of President Jefferson and the two Captains. He also created portraits of the Mandan chief, Sheheke, and his wife, Yellow Corn. Both Sheheke and Yellow Corn made the return trip with the Captains, intending to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with the President.