Florida State University’s Division of Student Affairs announced its selection of artist Erica Deitz’s work to be displayed in the new student union on March 7. Deitz, a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was selected from among 35 artists in a competition held by the university. Last year.
Deitz was born on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska and currently resides on the Hollywood Reservation in South Florida. His work has also been chosen to represent the Seminole Tribe of Florida at National Indian Child Welfare Association conferences as well as exhibits at the National Museum of the American Indian and the Lowe Art Museum. Drawing inspiration from his ancestors, Deitz often depicts scenes of indigenous history and cultural significance.
Organized by the Division of Student Affairs, the competition was open to all entries, but prioritized artists of Seminole ancestry in order to “represent and celebrate the culture and history of the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” as explained in the original call for artists.
Dr. Amy Hecht, vice president of student affairs, said she believes Dietz’s art “provides an Indigenous perspective” and “will be an iconic representation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Florida State University Student Union.” “.
Construction to replace the old Oglesby Union began nearly four years ago in the summer of 2018. After several postponements, the new student union is now expected to open this spring.
Deitz’s painting, “Osceola’s Vision,” will be reproduced to fit a 24-by-16-foot area in the heart of the Union. As reported by the Seminole Tribune, the Seminole Tribe of Florida official newspaper, this painting features his namesake, Osceola, along with several other important Seminole rulers. In an interview with the Seminole Tribune, Deitz highlighted Osceola’s importance to the Seminole lineage.
“His vision was more than winning battles,” she told the Tribune. “Our lineage is about surviving and continuing what they fought for.”
As the university continues to receive criticism for its use of Seminole iconography, members of the committee responsible for choosing Union artwork have expressed the importance of supporting the tribe.
“As we continue to fully immerse students in the cultural dynamics of the university and all of its key components, honoring the Seminole Tribe of Florida is vital,” FSU Student Body President Nastassia Janvier said in a press release to the university. “Artist Erica Deitz has graciously created a work that will allow the FSU community to celebrate, learn and appreciate the long history of Indigenous groups. Her art enables students, faculty, staff, and administrators to engage and create intentional dialogue for educational opportunities.
These statements reflect the university’s efforts to maintain a positive relationship with the Seminole tribe.
“FSU considers it a great privilege to represent a group of people whose courage and spirit we admire and respect,” reads the university statement on tribal relations. “Over the years, the administration has made it clear that the university will not engage in any activity that does not have the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”
Students can expect to see “Osceola’s Vision” in the new Union this summer. For more information and updates on FSU’s new student union, students and others can visit New FSU student union website.