The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., presents a group exhibition titled “Reclaiming Home: Contemporary Seminole Art,” on view from Mar. 18 to Sept. 4 in the museum’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing. This exhibition includes over 100 artworks by twelve Seminole, Miccosukee, and mixed-heritage artists from Florida, along with notable works by internationally recognized artists of Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole descent from Oklahoma, California, and beyond.
“Reclaiming Home” expands the conceptual framework of Native American art made in Florida today and provides a fuller understanding of art made by the Seminole diaspora. “This exhibition is an imperative step toward establishing a meaningful relationship with the Native American artistic community,” said Ola Wlusek, the Ringling’s Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “We are honored to be able to present the work of these incredible Native artists at the Ringling.” The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes of Florida are represented by visual artists who work, or have worked, in textiles, film, woodworking, beadwork, digital drawing, and painting. Their works offer an intimate look into the artists’ lived experiences, exploring issues of ancestry and identity, their relationship with the environment, and interfaith and traditional ways of knowing in Florida’s Native communities. Drawing from photo-based and digital collage techniques, performance, video, installation, and mixed media, artists from the Seminole diaspora offer diverse perspectives on the themes of memory, history, health, and representation as expressions of Native visual sovereignty.
Artists in the exhibition include the late Noah Billie (Seminole), Wilson Bowers (Seminole), Houston R. Cypress (Miccosukee), Elisa Harkins (Cherokee/Muscogee [Creek]), Alyssa Osceola (Seminole), Jessica Osceola (Seminole/Irish), C. Maxx Stevens (Seminole/Muscogee [Creek]), Tony Tiger (Sac and Fox/Seminole/Muscogee [Creek]), Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie (Taskigi/Diné [Navajo]/Seminole), Brian Zepeda (Seminole), Corinne Zepeda (Seminole /Mexican), and Pedro Zepeda (Seminole/Mexican).
As part of the Ringling’s ongoing commitment to add work by artists with a connection to Florida, the museum unveils a recently acquired three-part ceramic work by Jessica Osceola. Portrait One, Portrait Two, and Portrait Three (all 2017) are the first works by a Seminole artist to be added to the Ringling’s collection of modern and contemporary art, thanks to the generous support of the Daniel J. Denton Florida Art Acquisition Fund. This exhibition will include several important loans from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of Seminole culture and history, located on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. “We are grateful for the generous loans of artwork by the artists and lending institutions and, in particular, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum for their support of this important exhibition,” said Steven High, the Ringling’s executive director. “We look forward to partnering on projects in the future.” Additional lending institutions include the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. “Reclaiming Home” is accompanied by an exhibition catalog with scholarly texts by Durante Blais-Billie and Dr. Stacy E. Pratt, published by Scala Arts Publishers.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Endowment, the Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation Endowment, and the Bob and Diane Roskamp Endowment, and sponsored in part by the State of Florida’s Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture; the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Wlusek’s research and travel related to this exhibition and publication project was generously supported by the Curatorial Research Fellowship awarded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.