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Ahfachkee art skills showcased at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

BIG CYPRESS – With an array of student art from kindergartners to high school seniors, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is currently home to some of the Ahfachkee School’s most imaginative work. Twenty-two pieces fill a wall in the museum as part of an annual exhibition that helps link the students and the museum for all visitors to see.

“These kids are very talented. They are natural artists. They have it in their blood,” Ahfachkee art teacher Ivette Lopez said during an opening reception for the students Feb. 1 at the museum in Big Cypress.

Regardless of the age of its creators, the pieces – whose compositions include acrylic paint, collage, colored pencil, watercolor and other media – can evoke thoughts that extend beyond the boundaries of their black mattings.

First-grader Cody Motlow’s drawing ‘The Alphabet’ colorfully and creatively displays the 26 letters separately occupied inside 25 boxes, deftly using the separation lines between and above ‘S’ and ‘U’ to create ‘T’.

Justin Billie, a fifth-grader, used the sun, clouds, birds, water, grass and a wooden boat in his ‘Beautiful Day’ mixed-media piece that practically smiles back at the viewer.

“Galaxies,” created by 12th-grader Eyanna Billie with watercolor and ink, depicts a visual vastness of space that allows a mind to wander and wonder.

Rebecca Fell, the museum’s curator of exhibits, said she looks forward to the exhibition each year and seeing the works of the students, including those who have participated for several years.

“With the older kids – and Eyanna’s work is a good example – they start to develop their own sense of expression and style working with materials and doing it in interesting ways,” Fell said. “Watching them grow and develop is a lot of fun.”

The partnership between the school and museum dates back about a decade when Lopez first suggested creating an exhibit at the museum for students to showcase their skills. As Lopez explained in a letter that accompanies the art work, students at Ahfachkee delve into the work of the world’s most famous artists, including Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Da Vinci and Kandinsky.

“If they are going to work with Picasso, they need to learn about Picasso’s life and about what is the difference between abstract and realistic,” Lopez said.

The skills learned by the students in the classroom haven’t gone unnoticed in the museum.

“A couple years ago one of visitors from the RV park liked a piece so much he tried to buy it,” Fell recalled.

The exhibit runs until April 22.


The students whose art work is on display and their grades:

Amaya Bert (2nd)

Keifer Bert (kindergarten)

Aaliyah Billie (5th)

Eyanna Billie (12th)

Ezekiel Billie (5th)

Camille Billie (1st)

Justin Billie (5th)

Emma Dicarlo (5th)

Tikara Hall (kindergarten)

Haloma Jimmie (1st)

Hank Jumper (kindergarten)

Casidi Motlow (2nd)

Cody Motlow (1st)

Coda Porter-Osceola (1st)

Siya Osceola (2nd)

Christopher Smith (1st)

Curmya Smith (3rd)

Abigail Tigertail (10th)

Rebekah Tigertail (2nd)

Akira Tommie (kindergarten)

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at

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