Arts4All Florida is pleased to announce 21-year-old Christopher Aviles and 17-year-old Marshal Fisher as their September 2018 Students of the Month.
Christopher, who currently attends the Atlantis Academy L.I.F.E. program in Miami, Florida was nominated by his mother, Yaima Aviles. Christopher has taught himself to draw and his interest lies in developing his own version of familiar animated characters. Sometimes spending hours on one piece, he is able to recreate what he sees in his mind’s eye with very little erasing/editing. Meticulous in nature, Christopher relies on his patience to work tirelessly on his subjects until they are exactly how he envisions.
The L.I.F.E. program Christopher attends, teaches young adults with varying abilities the necessary skills they need to live a more independent life both in the home and workplace. He has volunteered at Baptist Hospital on the main campus and in West Kendall, as well as Doctor’s Hospital and the Miami Zoo.
Marshal, who spent the better part of his short life in foster care, was adopted by Betsy Fisher, a history teacher at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. As a young 13 year old teen with a host of behavior problems and hidden disabilities, Marshal faced the loss of one of his legs due to osteosarcoma. He turned to art to balance his life. He enrolled in art classes, joined in art therapy and drew on almost any surface he could find. He constructed creatures and puppets; he sculpted and used materials generating art in a multitude of styles.
Susan Baldino, regional coordinator for Arts4All Florida, nominated Marshal in memory of his legacy as a brave artist who used his talent to cope and share his vision of creativity. Baldino writes, “He was a true art prodigy, someone whose innate creative talent bubbled to the surface daily, even hourly.”
Marshal became an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and worked through the FSU Dance Marathon to raise funds. “Although Marshal lost his battle with cancer, he passed away with an artist’s humor and depth of understanding”, writes Baldino.
When his mother Betsy asked what his final vision was, he replied, “I just want people to be creative.” She laments, “His art was who he was”.
The Arts4All Florida Student of the Month Program is designed to increase public awareness and recognize the impact arts make on students with disabilities statewide. Students who participate in the arts develop creativity, have increased self-confidence, understand teamwork, have increased language and math skills and are generally more engaged.