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Artist’s projects, short film features Bobby Henry, Osceola story

The Seminole Tribe’s Heritage and Environment Resources Office is a collaborator with the School House 4 Reimagining Education, pictured here. (Courtesy SH4RE)

An Oct. 7 film screening and virtual art exhibit opening by Pensacola artist Sean Linezo has many connections to the Seminole Tribe.

Linezo is the artist-in-residence at the nonprofit School House 4 Reimagining Education (SH4RE) – a partner of the Pensacola Private School of Liberal Arts.

SH4RE’s programming for the remainder of the year will feature Linezo’s work through online workshops, panel discussions and a screening of the film “Statues Also Die.”

The Tribe’s Heritage and Environment Resources Office is a collaborator on the projects, along with the Pensacola Museum of Art and the Imagining America consortium.

One of Linezo’s projects would see a statue of the influential Seminole leader, Osceola, erected in the proximity of an existing statue of Andrew Jackson in downtown Pensacola’s Plaza Ferdinand. He has presented the public art proposal to the Pensacola City Council for approval.

Linezo’s work tells the story of Osceola from multiple perspectives – including that of Seminole medicine man Bobby Henry – in a way that seeks to decolonize the often-accepted nontribal narrative.

His exhibit at the Pensacola Museum of Art is also about Osceola and the varying versions of how he died following his capture by the U.S. government.

In a recent interview Linezo, who said he is of Indigenous ancestry, but not federally recognized, said “Statues Never Die” explores questions like: What is the function of art? What is the function of the museum? What is the function of a monument/public art? And what is the relationship of the artist to civic institutions?

He said the film and exhibit are fundamentally about “the legendary story of the honorable death of Osceola,” and the story’s verifiable paper trail.

“Every story found in popular culture and academic history is validated by a single diary entry by Dr. Frederick Weedon, who conveniently left out the fact that he cut off and stole the head of Osceola – a fact that is also validated and verified by the [National Archives],” Linezo states in the film’s description. “The U.S. government took it even further and also ordered that Osceola be stripped of all regalia, so he was actually buried as a naked, headless corpse – another unsettling fact that is verified and validated by the ‘official archive.’”

Linezo sought to add what was missing from the story, by passing on the oral history of generations of elders in the Seminole Tribe.

“Bobby Henry describes a different series of events that is still honorable but also more realistic than the over-dramatic scene as described by Weedon in his diary,” Linezo continues in the description. “Instead, Henry describes the negotiations, the refusal to sign [a treaty] and the two gunshots at point blank range. Henry explains, ‘the head and the heart, that’s what we go by.’”

The Oct. 7 film screening and virtual opening takes place from 7 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. To RSVP for the event, go to schoolhouse4.org or click here.

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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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