Northern Lights

Wandering the halls of History Fort Lauderdale’s museum, it’s clear that the history of our city is a winding one.

There are exhibits of the Seminole people, who came to the peninsula in the 1700s. Another wing chronicles the building of the Florida East Coast Railway by Henry Flagler — hundreds of African American men were sent to work the tracks in conditions that don’t look too different from slavery. But it’s not just history at this museum; it’s also a tapestry of the past, present and future of our community. That includes the art of the Seminoles and African-Americans who call Florida home.

This month, a large satellite exhibit of Miami Art Week showcasing historical and modern art by the Seminole people will be on display at History Fort Lauderdale. It’s part of an increasing push by Broward artists and art institutions to steer the Art Week and Art Basel spotlights north while also shining it on artists who deserve more attention than they get.

Coinciding with Native American History Month, the exhibit “Patchwork Mosaic: An Indigenous Gathering of Seminole Masterworks” opens during Miami Art Week and Art Basel. It’s an annual event, and one of the museum’s most popular, History Fort Lauderdale executive director Patricia Zeiler says, but this year will be the second that the exhibit is an official satellite fair that’s included in the Miami Art Week catalogue.

“Native American artists and visual arts are not as well represented in their portfolio as perhaps they should be,” Zeiler says. “For us, that becomes a teaching tool for all the school tours, the special group tours, for them to have an experience of that Seminole culture which is really much older than ours.”

The museum first partnered with famed Seminole artist Elgin Jumper, and visitors could see his series of portraits of notable chiefs.

“Our mission is to tell the stories of the communities that built South Florida,” Zeiler says.

Read the rest in Fort Lauderdale magazine.

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