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Elgin Jumper’s ‘Fluent Poetry’ show opens at museum

Elgin Jumper’s “Fluent Poetry” exhibit is on display in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s Mosaic Gallery through May 15. (Courtesy photo)

BIG CYPRESS – Elgin Jumper’s latest show at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum showcases the versatility of his painting styles in an exhibit called “Fluent Poetry.”

“I see a lot of poetry in everything,” Jumper said. “God gave me the gift to paint and write. I think a sunrise or sunset is visual poetry and a scene that moves you and stays with you is poetry as well. I speak fluent poetry through art and writing.”

Jumper’s creativity is multifaceted. He writes stories and poems and founded the Seminole Writers Group. His painting styles run the gamut. “Fluent Poetry” highlights some of his pieces that are influenced by art genres including tonalism, Cubism, Fauvism, graffiti art, mixed-media, abstract and charcoal drawing.

“A lot of artwork you see is inspired by art from the past, so there is a dialogue going on,” said Jumper, who lives in Hollywood. “That’s what keeps art going. I really enjoy having a dialogue with other painters from the past, they help me along.”

The piece “Jimmy Osceola’s Truck” is a painting of a white pickup truck next to a chickee. Jumper painted it in 2010 near the ball field on the Big Cypress Reservation. “[Osceola] was my first painting instructor,” Jumper said. “We would go to Brighton, Big Cypress, Immokalee and just paint outdoors. We spent a lot of time together. He helped me when I first got into painting. I used that painting in the show to have something to memorialize that time.”

Another piece is an homage to graffiti art. The painting includes a Seminole boy who just painted a message on a wall: “Beware I speak fluent poetry.” When Jumper created the painting he considered the frame as part of the canvas.

“That’s a new direction I’m going in,” he said. “I used a paint brush to imitate a spray can. Chief Billy Bowlegs is on there. I used a crown near him as a quote from [1980s artist] Jean Michel Basquiat, who used crowns in his work. I put it in there because Bowlegs’ turban reminds me of a crown.”

Jumper is known for his use of color, as showcased in his colorful warrior series. One of those paintings is included in the exhibition.

“This is my third show at the museum, my hat trick,” Jumper said. “The third time is the charm. There were a couple of lockdowns during the pandemic, but this is finally coming to fruition.”

An opening reception is slated to be held at the museum March 16. The reception will start at 12:30 p.m. with poetry readings from the Seminole Writers Group At 2 p.m. Jumper will talk about the artwork in the exhibition. Refreshments will be served and attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with the artist and writers.

The show will be open through May 15 in the museum’s Mosaic Gallery.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at