1004: Junior Polo
Tampa Bay artist Junior Polo is inspired by his students and his Caribbean heritage in the creation of his mixed media works that include murals, paintings and sculptures.
Hello, I'm Dalia Colon and this is WEDU Arts Plus.
Junior Polo is an artist and teacher in Tampa Bay,
who creates sculptures of mixed mediums.
A portion of his commissions
goes toward a nonprofit organization
that serves underserved youth in his home country of Haiti.
- My name is Junior Polo, I'm a professional artist.
I do teaching and also get the communities
involved in art activities.
And I do a lot of public art also in the Tampa Bay area.
Yeah, that painting you see right here
it's about like a young lady
like when I was kid and I got a crush on her.
Those flower represent me and her.
And then that branch it's like people keep us away
from each other like to really
to be able to see her to see her things and stuff like that.
That paints represent that.
- [Dalia] So, this is your first painting?
- Yeah, this is my first painting.
My work change and the time.
When I was younger, when I was kid I love cartoon.
And grow up and I love landscape.
And after that, what changed everything
it's when I start working with kids.
And I see the way they work
and then my work changed totally.
It's like the kids teach me how to be an artist.
Lately, I fall in love with jazz
and now you can see most of my artwork is based on music.
And sometimes I have a friend come over
and I could play in jazz, like they play live.
And then I listened to the music
and then get some inspiration sometimes.
For example, this piece, it's like the same thing.
It's a jazz player.
And she explained to me something and then play music.
He create a music and I'm trying to create a piece for him
like based on his base.
Sometimes just people say something
and I heard what they say and I said, oh, that's it,
let's try something.
And I can hear just a word from somebody.
And we can just have a conversation.
And then you say something and I pick up something.
And I said, that's a good idea,
let me try to create something with that.
My kids sometime they are funny, they say something.
And they say, daddy, what about you do this, you do that.
I think that's a good idea.
And I use it too.
My inspiration from all over.
I've been working with kids since I was 16 years old.
And then since I moved here in 2010, and then
I decide to create a business working with kids.
I don't think COVID have any impact negative on me
for creating, but economically yes.
Because we have our business to Veropolo
where we teach people on be one on one with people,
just stuff like that.
We work with kids but now since COVID everything go down.
It's why I try to pick up a couple of classes online
and then try to do it online.
But most of the time, it's more interesting
you know be face to face with people
talk to them, you know it's difficult.
Like economically, yes, it's changed things.
But not affect my ability
to make art, to make something amazing.
If I'm doing a sculpture it depend my environment.
What I find in my environment,
I use everything I find around me.
For example, if I'm here trying to make something,
create something, I will use everything in that room
to create a piece of art.
Usually, I put everything together.
Sometime I don't know what will happen.
Because it's difficult for me sometime
to do commission work.
I prefer to be free when I'm working.
Sometimes when people ask me,
oh, I want you to do something for me.
I want you to do this, I want to do to that.
I say, that's really difficult
because when I'm working, I wanna be free and happy.
If you like my work, let me be free.
If you have a wall or something like that,
let me be free in it.
I did a big, giant mural in Clearwater
inside the building.
What I use?
It's a building they were renovating.
And then they were throwing everything out
and all those like trash things, like pipe,
piece of food and everything
and I put them like together
and I created a big giant piece with that.
And then people were so happy.
It's because of that people in Clearwater
saw that view and then the Clearwater Jazz Festival said,
man, we need to get that guy and they choose me
to be the poster artist
for the Clearwater Jazz Festival in 2015.
I born artist.
They already asked me when I was kid,
what do you want to be when you grow up?
I would say, okay, I wanna be an artist.
But most of the time in my country
when you say you wanna be an artist,
people say, what, no way.
I'll always be passionate about it since I was kid.
And then now I live through art.
- You can find Junior's work at veropolo.com.