A Florida panther and her cub among the palmettos.
This is my state animal, the Florida panther, in traditional Seminole attire. I’m aware that the outfit is not entirely accurate and I took a lot of artistic liberties with the design. My inspiration for this piece came mainly from the Florida flag, which features a Seminole woman along a shoreline of palmettos. Old photographs depicting Seminole women and their families have also helped to inspire. I see lots of art representing Native Americans, but very rarely do I see Seminole art. Even rarer, Seminole art depicting the bond of mother and child. There is plenty of art in this world for the hunters and warriors; now for a portrait of a domestic warrior and her hunter-to-be.
Though the figures appear subdued, the true intensity lies beneath the layers of vibrant color and beaded necklaces. Florida has a spectacular cultural heritage and a wild beauty that tends to be overlooked by the modern eye. When people think of Florida they think of Disney or the crowded beaches. As a fifth generation Floridian, I think of my state’s natural splendor, culture, and unconquerable wildness. A little fact: the Seminole Tribe of Florida is considered to be the only unconquered indian tribe, and remains a sovereign entity in the United States. The Florida panther represents the same indomitable spirit. There are close to 150 remaining in Florida today and conservation efforts continue to increase their rate of survival. Another interesting fact: The Panther clan is the largest in the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
I hope this piece sparks a little patriotism in my fellow Floridians and inspires others to explore the heritage and culture of their own states.
For the contest at
I decided to use the symbol on the mother panther’s sleeve to represent the “sunshine” state. The palmetto was chosen for the background because I wanted to also include Florida’s state plant, which grows everywhere and has a multitude of uses. It was invaluable to the Seminoles’ survival and I’m sure to the panther’s survival when it comes down to it. I’ve used this plant myself for so many things including weaving, waterproofing structures, roasting marshmallows, and even eating the palmetto heart. I felt it deserved a place in this painting because of its otherwise overlooked importance.
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