The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum is hosting a contemporary traditional art exhibition.
The museum located inside a reservation in Florida, USA, features pieces including items of clothing and sweetgrass baskets inspired by Seminole culture.
Mixed media artist Wilson Bowers has painting featured: “There’s a lot of inspiration from within the community that, you know, they express themselves in that way and my way is painting.”
“I get a lot of inspiration from my community. You got all the doll makers, you got all the basket makers, you have all the beaters, there is a lot of seamstresses.”
Bowers represents the Florida-based Native American tribe’s young generation and rejects his work being labelled native art.
He makes items such as skateboards, murals and digital artworks that often contain Seminole motifs, but are equally inspired by such movements as pop art and anime. That prompts him to r eject the native art label.
“I hate the term native artist or native artwork, because to me, you know, it’s just me, I’m just an artist. I don’t know… like I would do stuff like this, and a lot of people like it, you know, like outside it’s kind of viewed as, oh, that’s native art, but it’s like no, it’s just art, I don’t know, it’s just me.”
‘One foot in the past, one in the present’
Visitors to the exhibit can discuss with artists whose work is on display and can view permanent exhibits.
For them and for the museum’s director it is all about preserving their identity.
“I like to look to see what’s new (at the museum)”, Sadie Rockwell says.
“It helps me to remember my culture, who I am. And just to see the generation now and what they’ve created”, the member of Miccosukee tribe adds.
“(Seminole art is) for us to express ourselves and to tell everybody that we are here, we’re still present, we’re still thriving,” director Gordon Wareham explains. But we have one foot in our past. We have one foot in the present. And then we are always looking to the future for that next step.”
The “Art of Seminole Crafts” exhibition explores various aspects of the tribe’s customs and includes jewelry and dolls.
The artists recreate traditional art adding their own designs to make them unique.