WEDU Arts Plus

S10 E4 | CLIP

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.

AIRED: February 25, 2021 | 0:06:32

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.

(upbeat music)

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