Enduring Beauty: Seminole Art and Culture
ORLANDO, February 21, 2018 – The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) is pleased to present Enduring Beauty: Seminole Art and Culture, a premiere exhibition drawn entirely from the important collection of American Indian art held by Winter Park residents I.S.K. “Keith” Reeves V and Sara W. Reeves. Considered to be the largest collection of Florida Seminole material in the world, held in private hands, Enduring Beauty covers Seminole art and culture from the 1820s through the present.
On view from March 22 – July 8, 2018, Enduring Beauty celebrates many aspects of Seminole culture, one being the spectacular design and craftsmanship of Seminole men’s big shirts created between 1915-1940. These brilliantly colored garments decorated with appliqué and patchwork are perhaps the most iconic expressions of Seminole art. Also included are examples of women’s and children’s clothing with the same richly decorated treatments. Much older are bandolier bags, sashes, leggings and other apparel worn by the Seminole as early as the 1820s. These are decorated with intricate beadwork in patterns that are often inspired by nature. Other artforms include dolls clothed in Seminole style, beadwork necklaces and finely woven sweet grass baskets with embroidery decoration.
The history of Seminole life and the variety of their distinctive adornment can also be seen in photographs, paintings and prints dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Reeves’ important collection of original historic photography includes images of Seminole lifestyle in the Everglades and proud portraits of families and noted individuals. 19th century color lithographs feature prominent Seminole leaders, many of whom were well known to the public at the time. Also, within this extensive exhibition is a group of paintings by Native American artist Harrison Begay, depicting varied Seminole cultural practices such as hunting, making canoes and dancing. Another highlight of the exhibition’s visual documentation will be an archival black and white film of traditional Seminole dance.
This exceptional collection was formed over the course of 40 years, around the Reeves’ respect for the long history of perseverance of the Seminole during the formative years of the State. In an effort to remain in their Florida homeland, the Seminole faced three wars against forced Federal removal to Oklahoma during the years 1817-1858. Following these wars, the roughly 300 Seminoles who did not surrender settled in the Everglades where the rugged environment provided a natural defense. Today, thousands of descendants of those few survivors live and thrive on six reservations in the state of Florida.
The Reeves state that, “The fact that the Seminole never surrendered and are flourishing today is a testament to the strength of their culture. We believe that every citizen of Florida, and every guest who visits Florida, should know about their history of endurance and achievement. For these reasons, we are pleased to share our collection of beautiful and enduring Seminole art within this singular exhibition.”
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