Photographer Russell James Captures the Mysticism of the Seminole Tribe

In 2009, Russell James founded Nomad Two Worlds in an effort to preserve the legacies of unexplored or fleeting civilizations and carry them into the present day. Recognizing the many indigenous communities around the world that slowly disappear, are forgotten, or become overshadowed by larger social movements, James’s idea was to engage artists who would visit these cultures and represent them through art. With a new collaboration in mind, he met with Seminole Chief James E. Billie to discuss a project that would involve a two-year exploration and documentation of the Seminole lands, including a photography series featuring characteristic images of the environment and shots featuring supermodel Behati Prinsloo ensconced in the Seminole setting.
Outlasting invasions by European settlers of North America, the Seminole tribe has withstood the test of time; approaching this “Seminole Spirit” series, James delved into its power, convictions, and morals to effectively capture the culture. To do so, he worked with Prinsloo to channel the community’s energy and dynamism, setting her bare body against and within authentic Seminole domains. Her body quickly dissolves into the natural world that surrounds it.
Printed on handmade Japanese paper, the photographs convey a spiritual vitality and present the viewer with textured landscapes that commemorate the physical sites of the photograph. One of Nomad Two Worlds’s objectives is to find a point of union between the commercial and the collaborative in a pure sense. While encapsulating James’s vision of the community’s mores, these photographs also function collectively as a window into a cultural zeitgeist that is hidden in a pocket of our contemporary world.
Michael Valinsky
Seminole Spirit” is on view at Stephan Weiss Studio, New York, Feb. 20- Feb. 26, 2015.