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Erica Deitz’s art to be featured as large mural at FSU student union

Seminolea artist Erica Deitz, from the Hollywood Reservation, works on the acrylic painting that will be reproduced to adorn a 24-foot-high by 16-foot-wide area in Florida State University’s new student union. (Photo courtesy of Erica Deitz)

Seminole tribal member Erica Deitz’s artwork will be displayed as a mural at Florida State University’s new student union. The university made the announcement in a news release March 7, noting that the mural will be displayed in a prominent location in the building.

Deitz’s painting, “Osceola’s Vision,” will be enlarged from its original 35-by-24-inch acrylic painting to a massive 24-foot-high by 16-foot-wide mural.

The painting depicts iconic Seminole chief Osceola looking down from the clouds with other Seminole leaders behind him, including Micanopy, Wildcat, Sam Jones and Billy Bowlegs. Deitz’s idea for the painting was to show that Osceola’s priority was the safety of his people. She said they were all integral to the tribe’s survival.

“His vision was about more than winning battles,” Deitz told the Tribune after the announcement. “Our lineage is about survival and to carry on what they fought for. Today there are leaders who put the survival and welfare of our people at the forefront and teach it to the future generations of the tribe. That’s how we should think and live; to teach our people and children to always give back so those blessings can come back to us.”

In July 2021, the FSU division of student affairs solicited contemporary artists to submit proposals for a mural for the student union. The committee gave priority to works that represent and celebrate the Seminole Tribe’s culture and history and also gave preference to artists with Seminole ancestry. Tribal member Elgin Jumper and two non-tribal artists were also finalists.

“As I create my art, I put all of the energy from my ancestors, their traditional teachings and their culture, into each painting,” Deitz said in the news release. “This is my way of keeping the spirit of my ancestors alive. I am honored to share my artwork with the Florida State University campus community.” 

Artistic creativity extends throughout Deitz’s family. Her mother, Jo Motlow North, is an artist and both of Deitz’s grandmothers were artists. Her parents met when they were students at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She has Winnebago and Ojibway heritage from her father, Robert North.

Deitz, who lives on the Hollywood Reservation, has been drawing since she was 3 years old and she had her first art show at age 10. In June 2021, her art was featured on the cover of Indian Gaming magazine.

Installation of the mural is slated to be held this summer.

“We are honored to have Erica’s art selected and to support a Seminole Tribe of Florida artist who offers an Indigenous perspective through art,” Amy Hecht, FSU vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. “Erica’s piece of art will be an iconic representation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Florida State University student union. Her art will communicate the history and celebrate the culture of the tribe. It is fitting that her work will be displayed in the most visible location in the union.”

Editor’s note: Read more about Erica Deitz and the painting in the March 31 issue of the Tribune.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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