The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum is proud to present, Before and After 1565: A Participatory Exploration of St. Augustine’s Native American History, collaboratively produced by members of the St. Augustine community with Portland based artist Harrell Fletcher. The project begins on Friday, August 31 with a panel discussion including the artist and participating Flagler College students at 5pm, and an opening reception from 6 until 9pm. The project includes a museum exhibition, as well as a Trolley Tour of local sites related to St. Augustine’s Indigenous and Native American history, a stand serving indigenous “Black Drink,” and an accompanying newspaper publication. Additional related programs will include a Timucuan Technology workshop on indigenous pyrotechnology in collaboration with the Northeast Chapter of the Florida Public Archeology Network. The project will run through October 19.
Fletcher was initially drawn to the rich history of the First Coast’s indigenous population, as well the later history of Native American internment at the Castillo de San Marcos (then, Fort Marion). While much of the local historical focus is placed on the Spanish colonial development, little is available to the immediate public and visiting tourist population about the thriving cultures that existed on the east coast before the arrival of European settlers. In turn, “Before and After 1565” enlists the help of local students, archaeologists, educators and other community outlets in order to further examine this cultural heritage and to provide a resurce to the community in which to learn more about this vital part of St. Augustine history.
The museum exhibition will serve as a repository for much of the information researched by students and community members, as well as native ceramics and other archeological objects on loan from the Saint Augustine City Archeological Archive and Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, photographs and ledger drawings created by Native Americans interned in the late 19th century from the collection at the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve at Fort Caroline. The other, more socially engaged aspects of the work take place in the modes in which the project directly involves the community. A special trolley tour will be lead through the city by experts on Native culture such as Kathleen Deagan, University of Florida Professor, Carl Halbirt, Saint Augustine City Archeologist, Dr. Keith Ashley, UNF Archeologist and Professor and Beth Maycumber, Historian, as well as Flagler students and others committed to expanding the community’s as well as their own knowledge of the vast and colorful indigenous and Native American local history. This tour, available to the public on August 31, September 7, and October 5, from 6 to 9pm, will allow for an insight into various sites related to and aspects of Indigenous and Native populations in Saint Augustine as well as their importance to and impact on local history.
In addition, “Before and After 1565” features an experiential Black Drink stand presented by Flagler student Tara Stephens which allows the public to partake in an indigenous communal past time. Pre-contact Native American tribes commonly used local Yaupon Holly leaves to create a tea known as Black Drink, which was used daily as well as in community gatherings. Its consumption was phased out with the introduction of European tea and coffee trades brought to the Americas with Colonial settlers. In making Black Drink available in tandem with informative historical accounts provided in the trolley tours, the community is presented with a physical, tangible and experiential aspect of a past that that they may not have otherwise known about. Finally, a small publication will be made available as a document of the project, with contributions by participating community members and students.
Harrell Fletcher obtained his BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and an interdisciplinary MFA from California College for the Arts. Institutions most recently such as the Tate Modern, London, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles have commissioned Fletcher’s socially engaged and interdisciplinary projects, and his work has been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art and numerous other national and international institutions. Fletcher currently lives in Portland, Oregon where he is an Associate Professor and the Founder of the Art and Social Practice Master of Fine Art Program at Portland State University.