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A lifetime of art with Elgin Jumper

BIG CYPRESS — Elgin Jumper is no stranger to the art world. His latest pieces, on display at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum through Oct. 16, are only one collection of the hundreds of pieces he has created throughout his life.

Jumper, 53, started his journey with art when he was only 8 years old after he saw people draw what he described as beautiful creations. With only paper and pencils, he became addicted to an artistic escape. Although drawings were his primary outlet for most of his artistic tenure, he started expanding to more mediums about 12 years ago. Since then, he has become more skilled in painting with oils and acrylics and has even delved into written art with poetry, plays and essays.

Jumper does not have a preference of medium, he just says he wants to gain experience in as many aspects of art as possible.

“Art is very disciplined,” he said. “You can’t get too distracted.”

Driving inspiration from nature, life and others’ poetry, Jumper said that his work is a gateway to a life of positivity. Before his acquaintance with the passion, he was immersed in a life of trouble and difficult paths.

“Art led me away from a downward spiral of negativity,” he explained. “Art saved my life.”

This driving factor has led him to creating hundreds of pieces focused on his many observations related to life and nature. At the current exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum — Jumper’s third exhibit at this location — his work is focused on Seminole culture and surroundings. He said that preserving the world through art is important in keeping perspective on the beautiful aspects of life.

“I see myself as a painter of the modern day, trying to focus on culture as well as other things,” he said. “There’s a whole world out there and painting the world keeps a record of history.”

To commemorate this new exhibit, the museum held an artist reception for Jumper on July 11. During that time, Jumper discussed the various paintings on-site, read some of his newest poems and complimented young artists.

While he is proud of his own works and accomplishments, he emphasized that younger generations need to be acknowledged for their efforts in preserving culture through art and language. Without acknowledging them on their successes, he explained that their drive and passion can dissipate.

“They’re really far-reaching in their ideas and subjects and with techniques they develop,” he said. “It’s really important to get involved with all aspects of culture.”

He finished the event by encouraging younger artists to stay committed to their work and not give up on their aspirations.

“It’s not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication,” he said. “You have to try to not get too distracted by social media and other things.”

Li Cohen
When she isn't drinking a [probably excessive] cup of coffee, Li is reading and writing about local, national and international news. She can also be seen running around NYC in preparation of marathon season and travelling to new lands. Make sure to check out her work at, send her an email at and follow her journeys on Twitter (@WritingLiYakira) and Instagram (@LiYakira).

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