The First Mothers Mural
By Wilson Bowers and Samuel Tommie, Seminole Tribal artists
Made possible by The Downtown Improvement Authority, Sperry and Associates, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the AH-TAH-THI-KI Museum, the Knight Foundation, and the Community Foundation of North Florida.
Located on St. Augustine Street, directly across the street from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center
More about this mural:
For the first time in Tallahassee, images of the Seminole Tribe of Florida have been created by members of the Seminole Tribe. Artist Wilson Bowers said “I know there's always visuals of [..] our culture like patchwork or representations of Osceola, but we are more than that, we are a people with a history, a people with a rich and colorful culture with traditions that still survive on today despite going through all that we faced. We are more than a name of a school, we are more than just patchwork or spears, yes these things are a part but just a part, I wanted to share something a little bit different, something a little bit more as to who we are. This is what inspired me with the piece, I wanted it to be eye-catching and colorful, such as the clothing and patchworks our seamstresses make but also represent us all. So in addition to being bold being simple enough to read even for children. ..For Tallahassee to have someone of the Tribe to do a piece was awesome and I appreciate the opportunity very much. How often is it that aspects of our culture or our history is visually done and made by non indigenous artist?”
The idea to work with the Seminole Tribe of Florida came from Elizabeth Emmanuel’s desire to increase cultural representation through art. “We’d found success in public art projects in 2020, and had a wonderfully diverse set of artists creating content that spoke to them. Here in Tallahassee we have art work about Seminoles, but none of it was created by Tribal members. I’d seen some really impactful pieces by Tribal Artists in South Florida and wanted to work directly with the Tribe to find an opportunity for them to tell their story. Jay Revell came to me with the site, and said he’d hoped to see something large scale and engaging for the community. It was the perfect opportunity.”
The Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority received a grant in 2020 from the Knight Foundation through the Community Foundation of North Florida. “The Community Foundation of North Florida is pleased to partner with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help them invest in projects that contribute to a more vibrant community. This mural enhances Tallahassee’s downtown with public art that can be enjoyed by all.” Katrina Rolle, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of North Florida.
“It has been a privilege to help assist the TDIA in coordinating a space for the Seminole Tribe’s art installation. Our team and client, who provided the location, both share a value in community. This mural allowed the tribe’s artist an opportunity to educate and connect with our community by portraying a representation of the tribe's heritage, through their art work. We are looking forward to unveiling it to the public.” Said Bart Wells of Sperry & Associates.
This project has been done in collaboration with The Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority, Sperry and Associates and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of Seminole Culture and History by artists Wilson Bowers and Samuel Tommie through a grant received from the Community Foundation of North Florida.
Artists are Wilson Bowers and Samuel Tommie from the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Accomplished professional artists who use a wide range of mediums, they are both members of the Bird Clan. Wilson grew up on Big Cypress Reservation. He now lives in Hollywood, Florida. Samuel was born at one of the islands on the open prairie river of the Everglades. It was a river lifestyle his family had lived since the 1800’s.
The 135 foot mural depicts the Artists version of the Seminole Tribe’s creation story. It features symbolic elements, Wind and the Earth, the wind (Creator) that blew his favorite animals onto the earth, which ultimately became the Mothers of The Tribe: Panther, Bird, Bear, Deer, Snake, and Otter. The mural also shows a blend of a Chickee, a traditional Seminole house, made of Palmetto leaves over a cypress log frame, still utilized today- and and Big Town (Toad) one of the Clan Animals. The woman in the center represents anyone- it is meant to welcome everyone. On either side of the Clans are diamonds with patchwork in a modern design. They depict a series of colors representing fire and sun. Fire is of cultural significance and traditional to each clan’s village.
Artist Wilson Bowers of the Seminole Tribe has said, "I hope it helps provide an appreciation for who we are as a people, our history and culture that still survives today."