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Artist teams up with Miccosukee Tribe for Miami exhibit

MIAMI — The Pérez Art Museum Miami has announced a new exhibition that is heavily influenced by the Miccosukee Tribe.

“The Swaying Motion on the Bank of the River Falls,” features the work of decorated Chilean artist Felipe Mujica – and marks his first major museum exhibition in the U.S. The work is meant to show the ecological and cultural diversity of South Florida, including the Miccosukee Tribe, which is located in the Everglades about 65 miles west of Miami.

The exhibition will showcase more than 20 new fabric panels, or curtains, that utilize the patchwork traditions of the Miccosukee Tribe. The project is the result of a longtime collaboration between Mujica and Miccosukee artist Khadijah Cypress. Cypress created the patchwork designs for Mujica’s fabric panels – traditional Miccosukee symbols and patterns of abstractions of the natural world of South Florida like animals, lightening, rain, rivers and wind.

Chilean artist Felie Mujica. (Courtesy photo).

Cypress founded the Miccosukee Creativity Center, a community center that encourages the traditional craftwork in a space where members – both Miccosukee and Seminole – are welcome to learn patchwork, beadwork, basket making and other skills.

“We are very excited to be collaborating with Khadijah Cypress, who was introduced to us when Mujica was in Miami for his research,” PAMM associate curator Jennifer Inacio said in an email to the Seminole Tribune. “Her work in promoting the patchwork technique within her community in the Miccosukee Creativity Center is very admirable.”

Inacio said visitors can expect a unique experience. As they move through the installation, the air will slowly shift the curtains and “activate” the space with each visitor who in a way will become collaborators themselves, she said. There is another interactive element in which visitors can physically move specific panels, creating an ever-changing experience.

“This group of curtains adds a new dimension to my work as well as serves as a platform for the study and promotion of Native American culture,” Mujica said in a statement. “I am excited to see this combination, because even if it’s done in a minimal and abstract way, the technique of Miccosukee patchwork is placed in a completely new context, in a different scale, in dialogue with architecture, space, the viewer, the elements, and also in dialogue with forms and colors while simultaneously maintaining its traditional character.”

Inacio said that in addition to experiencing the works in the space and offering an experience for the audience to learn about Miccosukee culture, she also hopes it will serve as a platform to extend a dialogue about the Miccosukee Tribe. The connection extends to the exhibition’s title itself, which is meant to directly reference the flow of water, a crucial factor in the Everglades ecosystem and ever present in Indigenous contexts.

The exhibition opens May 20 and runs through the spring of 2022. The museum is located at 1103 Biscayne Blvd. For more information, go to pamm.org.

The Perez Art Museum Miami hosts the exhibition starting May 20. (Photo Robin Hill)
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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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