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Seminole artists show work in ‘The Art of Seminole Craft’ exhibit

At right, Brian Zepeda talks to Carol Cypress about his bandolier bag on display at “The Art of Seminole Craft” exhibition opening Dec. 16. (Beverly Bidney)

BIG CYPRESS — Seminole arts and crafts were originally made to sell to tourists, but “The Art of Seminole Craft” exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Big Cypress shows the craft has evolved into an additional viable art form.

“The crafts were also done for each other and the skills passed down through the generations,” said James Patrick, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum head of exhibitions. “That really counts toward keeping the culture going.”

Artists whose work is on display include Judy Baker, Linda Beletso, Kiana Bell, Chandler Demayo, Ricky Doctor, Donna Frank, Judy Jim, Tina Osceola, Lorraine Posada and Brian Zepeda. Some of the 65 items on display include beadwork, baskets, bandolier bags, carvings, dolls and a painting.

Doctor carved a walking stick embellished with intricately beaded depictions of the Seminole clans. He said it took six months to complete. Zepeda has a beaded bandolier bag on display and said it usually takes about six months to make one since he works on three or four bags at a time.

This was Bell’s first exhibition of her baskets; she learned how to make them from Frank in 2017 and hasn’t stopped making them since. She also helps teach basket making at the Hollywood Community Culture Center. In the exhibit, a very large basket is surrounded by others of varying sizes.

“It took me about seven or eight months to complete,” Bell said about the large one. “I love making them. I let the work take me on what shape it will be. It usually goes the way I want it to.”

The exhibit is on display at the museum through March 2023.

Basket maker Kiana Bell stands with her work on display at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. She has been making baskets for just five years and has a lot to show for her time well spent. (Beverly Bidney)
Artist Ricky Doctor smiles after being given a patchwork flower as a thank you for participating in the museum show. In the background are museum retail manager Rebecca Petrie, left, and Carol Cypress. (Beverly Bidney)
Basket makers Linda Beletso, left, and her daughter Lorraine Posada at the opening of “The Art of Seminole Craft” show. (Beverly Bidney)
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