After an extensive open search for artists, the Florida State University Division of Student Affairs has selected a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to create artwork that will be prominently displayed in the new FSU Student Union.
Later this summer, an acrylic painting by accomplished artist and Seminole Tribe of Florida member Erica Deitz will be reproduced to adorn a highly visible 24-foot-high by 16-foot-wide area in the new FSU Student Union.
“We are honored to have Erica’s art selected and to support a Seminole Tribe of Florida artist who offers an Indigenous perspective through art,” said Amy Hecht, vice president for Student Affairs. “Erica’s piece of art will be an iconic representation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Florida State University Student Union. Her art will communicate the history and celebrate the culture of the Tribe in Florida. It is fitting that her work will be displayed in the most visible location in the Union.”
The original Union building, then named the University Union, opened in 1952 when Florida State University maintained an enrollment of less than 5,000 students. Now, FSU maintains an enrollment of more than 45,000. To support the current population and future generations, Florida State implemented the new Student Union Project in 2018. The new, cutting-edge facility is anticipated to open in Spring 2022.
Born on the Winnebago Indian Reservation, Deitz is a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida on her mother’s side and Winnebago and Ojibway heritage on her father’s side. Her work offers an Indigenous perspective in a variety of art mediums in a way that is accessible to a wide audience.
Deitz’s passion to express herself through art began at the age of three as she painted with accomplished Native American artist Jo M. North, her mother. At the age of 10, Deitz entered her first major art contest and received a bronze medal for her work from the International Children’s Art Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. She’s continued to win numerous awards for her artwork throughout her career.
FSU Student Body President Nastassia Janvier served on the selection committee and said that of the 35 submissions collected from the open search for artists, the committee was most moved by Deitz’s work.
“As we continue to fully immerse students in the cultural dynamic of the university and all its key components, honoring the Seminole Tribe of Florida is vital,” Janvier said. “Artist Erica Deitz has graciously created a piece that will allow the FSU community to celebrate, learn and appreciate the long-standing history of Indigenous groups. Her art allows for the students, faculty, staff and administrators to engage and create intentional dialogue for educational opportunity.”
Deitz describes the artwork commissioned by the FSU Division of Student Affairs as “a representation of Osceola’s vision to see his people live freely and prosper all under the guidance of his forefathers and medicine men.”
“As I create my art, I put all of the energy from my ancestors, their traditional teachings and their culture into each painting,” Deitz said. “This is my way of keeping the spirit of my ancestors alive. I am honored to share my artwork with the Florida State University campus community.”
Deitz’s work is showcased in both solo and group exhibitions across the world, including the permanent collection in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. and in the Lowe Art Museum in Miami. Several pieces of her art have been displayed alongside fellow Seminole Tribal artists in the “Seminole Art Scene from Frontlines,” “Patchwork Mosaic: An Indigenous Gathering of Seminole Masterworks,” and “Circle of Unity.” These exhibitions were a centerpiece of the History Fort Lauderdale Museum’s Native American Heritage Month. In addition, one of Dietz’s original acrylic paintings was selected as cover art for the June 2021 internationally circulated magazine, Indian Gaming Magazine.
For more information about the new FSU Student Union, visit new.union.fsu.edu.