A new exhibit of contemporary photos of ancient Native American rock art of the southwestern U.S. is on display through Oct. 5 at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St. in Evanston.

“Walls that Speak: Rock Art in the Southwest” comprises more than a dozen photos by Chicago photographer Tom Petrillo, taken from 2002 to 2007 in the region where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet. The exhibit opened August 2.

Petrillo will speak about his photos of etched petroglyphs and painted pictographs at a gallery talk September 11 at 6:30 p.m., in which he’ll share his fascination with what he calls “the mystery of rock art.” He’ll describe photo outings that have led him far off the tourist path and introduce listeners to the Navajo family who befriended and guided him to points of interest in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. For context, he’ll also show photos of the areas surrounding the rock-art sites seen in the exhibit.

He has made more than 10 extended trips to the region, relying on back-country hiking, rock climbing, and river rafting to reach out-of-the-way rock art.

Petrillo has been an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a lecturer in the art department at Northwestern University. His photos have been published in Time-Life books and elsewhere and have been on exhibit around the world. He was among the photographers included in the landmark “Changing Chicago” group documentary exhibit of 1989.

Admission to the photo exhibit and the September 11 talk are included with an entrance donation to the museum. Suggested donation is $5 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, students, and children. Maximum suggested admission per family is $10. For information, phone (847) 475-1030. On the Net: www.mitchellmuseum.org.

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