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Seminole imagery enhances art project

Gateway Art Project06DELRAY BEACH — Delray Beach has never been a Seminole stronghold, but in the 1800s there were a few Seminole camps at nearby Lake Ida. On March 14, Delray Beach city officials cut the ribbon to commemorate the downtown Gateway Art Project, which features Tribal imagery as part of the area’s cultural heritage.

Created by textile artist Michelle Newman, the six colorful, 30-foot towers flank Atlantic Avenue just east of Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County. Conceived in 2002 and inspired by the city’s numerous cultural influences – including Seminole, Japanese, African-American, Haitian and the Victorian era – the design reflects diversity through stylized images.

Newman spent time learning Tribal culture, such as how to make patchwork, in the Hollywood and Brighton Culture departments. She used the symbols for lightening, birds and turtles in the permanent installation. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Newman recognized and thanked Tribal members for allowing her to learn Seminole culture firsthand.

“From the beginning, she was interested in the designs and our history,” said former Tribal President Joe Dan Osceola. “She is a very talented lady and this is a great contribution to the community. You can see the Seminole influence – it’s very distinct.”

In return for the access she received, Newman offered to teach Tribal women and children silk painting.

“I can show you how to paint your images on silk fabric,” Newman said. “I want to share that with you as my gift. It will be my honor to give something back to the Tribe.”

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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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