Crisp-Ellert Art Museum spotlights American Indian imprisonment at St. Augustine fort
Mar 19, 2015
by Bobbie Stewart
A recent exhibit at Flagler’s Crisp-Ellert Art Museum cast light on a long-neglected historical narrative: American Indians who were imprisoned between 1875-1878 in St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos.
“Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay” was on display in February and included a symposium that explored how the art exhibition corresponded to historic events, both in St. Augustine and beyond.
The story of the Native Americans imprisoned in St. Augustine is often overshadowed by other chronicled events — from Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida to the civil rights movement.
“This is a contemporary response to an historical experience, held intact in American Indian communities through oral tradition and art today,” said Julie Dickover, the director of the Crisp-Ellert. “It’s not just a staid historical exhibition where you’re sharing facts everybody already knows. It is this whole other perspective on these events — some artists are American Indians, some aren’t, some had relatives imprisoned there … this is their history.”
As part of the project, 72 native and non-native artists created sketches using various printmaking methods as a response to the authentic ledger-paper sketches drawn by 72 imprisoned American Indians. The prisoners, forcibly removed from their homes in Oklahoma and brought by rail to what was then Fort Marion, were leaders of Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Caddo and Chiracahua Apache tribes.
Artists were provided with images of the original sketches and asked to consider three things in their artistic process: particular prisoners, art historically and the topography of the landscape prisoners traversed.