A Painting by Christopher M. Still
Oil on Linen 48 x 126 in
he earliest known history of the land that is now called Florida is symbolically represented through fossils and artifacts beginning with a time over 30 million years ago, when water covered much of its surface. It continues through ages where now-extinct animals such as fierce saber-toothed cats, huge mammoths and herds of bison antiquus roamed the land, and into the time of its earliest human inhabitants. Over thousands of years, Florida’s earliest inhabitants developed complex cultures they hunted, fished, farmed—and left behind them beautiful, artful objects made from natural materials fascinating hints of who they were and how they lived.
The scene shows members of a Timucua tribe fishing and gathering food at the mouth of a river. A young woman turns to discover a fish has fallen from her basket, and she sees a crab scrambling to escape. She smiles, admiring its will to survive. Her respect is great because she believes her ancestors live in the smallest of creatures. The woman does not notice the Spanish ship far off on the horizon a strange new sight that has alarmed her companions. And she does not realize that this ship brings with it an end to her way of life.
Sitting on the frame of the painting are fossils and artifacts representing several prehistoric Florida cultures. Near the center is a map, originally drawn by the French artist and explorer Jacques le Moyne in 1564, documenting many of the tribes he had seen or heard of in this "new land."
Within 300 years of European contact these native tribes completely disappeared from Florida mainly victims of diseases, slavery and wars. Traces of their cultures are found in museums throughout the state, but there are many unanswered questions about them, and we continue to search for knowledge and understanding of their lives and times.
Through this painting, the artist hopes to inspire a strong connection to and a deep respect for the ancient world of Florida, its beautiful native landscape, and its first inhabitants who undoubtedly admired the same spectacular sunsets we do today.
More detailed information on the murals can be found at the artist's website: http://www.christopherstill.com
Copyright © 2002-2004. All Rights Reserved. Christopher M. Still.