In 2012, internationally renowned Australian born photographer Russell James met with the Chief of The Seminole Tribe of Florida, James E. Billie, to discuss Nomad Two Worlds, the steeply messaged fine art and cultural collaboration project that James founded in 2001. A bond was formed, and James embarked on a two-year exploration and artistic interpretation of The Seminole Tribe of Florida. During that time, James was given unfettered introductions to Tribe Members spanning all clans, privileged access to Seminole land, their homes, cultural sites and traditions.
James’ artistic interpretation of The Seminole Tribe of Florida is entitled ‘Seminole Spirit’. Initially overwhelmed by accounts of the extraordinary hardships The Tribe has faced and overcome over the years, James developed great respect for their hard-won reputation as ‘The Unconquered’, and most of all, for their irrepressible will and ability to adapt, move forward and excel in the face of such adversity. James says, “Seminole Spirit is about the past and present being reconciled with a profoundly simple message – move forward together.”
During the creative process, James imagined and brought to life a single character to represent the core values of The Seminole Tribe as he had come to understand them. Equally inspired by James’ account of Seminole history, supermodel Behati Prinsloo agreed to become an artistic partner in the project. Ms. Prinsloo’s character ‘Seminole Spirit’ is the metaphor for the strength, vision, beauty and cultural relevance that James feels emanates from The Seminole Tribe of Florida. Ms. Prinsloo was taken deep into Seminole Lands to be photographed and filmed by James, using artistic concepts derived from his distinctive ‘Nomad Two Worlds’ project. The outcome is a stunning visual interpretation of The Tribe’s cultural progression and modern day relevance, delivered in sensual and dramatic themes through the vision of James.
The ‘Seminole Spirit’ fine art collection has been produced on exquisite handmade archival Japanese papers. The main collection is experienced with the support of multi-media art forms, including an art film featuring the spoken word of the Spiritual Leader of The Seminole Tribe, Bobby Henry, and a fine-art photography exhibition that incudes portraits of Tribal Members, cultural sites and breathtaking landscapes.
‘Seminole Spirit’ was unveiled at a gala opening event on February 17, 2015 at Stephan Weiss Studio in New York, a place that James refers to as the ‘spiritual home’ to all of his ‘Nomad Two Worlds’ art collaborations. The launch was co-hosted by Chief James E. Billie, Spiritual Leader Bobby Henry, Donna Karan, Behati Prinsloo and Russell James.