WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 1004

In the next edition of WEDU Arts Plus, a local artist creates sculptures influenced by his Caribbean heritage, stitch by stitch, a fiber artist fashions dolls from head to toe, art and technology come together in cosmic creations, and Baltimore's young talent take on Tim Rice.

AIRED: February 25, 2021 | 0:26:45

- [Narrator] This is a production of WEDU-PBS,

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota.

Major funding for WEDU Arts Plus

is provided through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts loving donor

who encourages others to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation,

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

- [Dalia] In this edition of WEDU Arts Plus,

a local artist creates sculptures

influenced by his Caribbean heritage.

- I fall in love with jazz

and now you can see most of my art work

is based on music.

- [Dalia] Stitch by stitch, a fiber artist fashions dolls

from head to toe.

- [Frances] I tried very hard

for you to be able to see an individual.

It is the gesture, the stature that a person has.

- [Dalia] Art and technology

come together in cosmic creations.

- We wield the tools.

We are experts at these tools and at the same time

that's not what it's about.

It's not about those tools at all.

It's about messaging.

- [Dalia] ] And Baltimore's young talent takes on Tim Rice.

- [Emily] It's a really wide range

of a lot of different styles of music.

And that's the really cool thing about the show,

is that it starts in this one place

from a lot Tim Rice's songs when he was really young.

- It's all coming up next on WEDU Arts Plus.

(jazz music)

(soft music)

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

African textiles and natural fabrics are the inspiration

for Dayton, Ohio fiber artists, Frances M. Turner.

She makes dolls entirely from scratch, allowing each one

to take on a life of its own.

- Well to start with the dolls that unmake are cloth.

And it is a black silhouette that you see.

I try very hard for you to able to see an individual.

It is the gesture, the stature that a person has.

When I'm deciding what I want my pieces to look like,

it's the people that I encounter.

Sometimes it's the way a gentlemen

stands back in his legs.

The lilt of his head, the way a lady looks

when she's wearing a hat because she knows

she looks good in it.

I find a lot of things that I do

are based on what my parents did

and what they told me that their parents did.

And so it is a heritage that I express

in the way my pieces present themselves

and the way they wear their clothes.

You will not find one doll in this house

that doesn't have on a hat.

My dad wore hats, my mother wore hats.

She wore gloves, heels.

I want my ladies to look like ladies

which means that they have manners.

I want my men to look like gentlemen

because they are mannerable.

And these are the things that was to me by my parents.

My mom and dad, both were from Louisiana.

My grandmother and grandfather, they had 15 children.

They were hardworking, good down to earth people.

My mother used to tell stories, so did my dad

about people in their life growing up in the country.

And they just seemed like just an adventure.

The names are the things that stuck with me.

First and middle name, John Earl or Ruth Anne.

And Audrey Rose was another name that I enjoyed hearing.

And I liked the ring to the name.

And I chose those names sometimes for my people

that make them familiar to me.

They appeared to be more than just a doll.

They are figures and they are real.

They are vibrant, they are alive.

They speak to you and they speak to you

in a lot of different ways.

I work at Price Stores

and I work on tuxedos.

And I have done that for the last 25 years.

And it does not get old.

There are a lot of weddings, funerals, special occasions.

But once all that is over,

that garment eventually finds its way and it's retired.

And once it's retired, then it finds new life with me

to become whatever it is that I want it to become.

And still look alive,

youthful, adventurous, exciting.

The very first quilt that I made professionally,

I did for Sarah Coxwell who was head of city folk.

Because I had never made a quilt before,

everything that I ever thought could be a part was a part.

I made a small doll, an adult dress.

I used the stone beads around her neck.

I used suede cloth and traced my hand.

There's the eye of Africa, the all seeing eye.

Then there are 10 eyes

and then off to the side is the one hidden eye

that's always watching.

And it was like it was a map rather than a quilt

because I was going from region to region,

person to person, thing to thing

and using all these colors.

And in between, I did a very bold satin stitch

so that as you looked at the quilt

you could go from one piece and one place to another

and still be able to see each piece and not be confused.

And I believe that that is the gesture

and the mainstay for the kinds of quilts that I do.

I've got a lot to say, and I want you to be able

to go from one part of that conversation

to the next and not lose anything in between.

I am an artist and I like the idea

of saying that I'm an artist.

It has been a journey that I have enjoyed immensely

and look forward to every moment

that I get a chance to do it.

(soft music)

- To find more Dayton Ohio artists,

check out

Animator, John Levy, marry's art with technology

to create cosmic images.

Levy is an animation creator for NASA

as well as for movies and television shows including Lost.

(soft music)

- A lot of people know about visual facts

and sophisticated graphics from the movies from television.

There's a general perception in the public

about this kind of work can only be done in Hollywood.

We're here in Hampton, Virginia

and we've collected a group of guys from across the country.

And we use latest tools, we use technologies

and bring that Hollywood level of graphics

to the work we do here.

I'm John Levy, studio director

of NASA's advanced concepts laboratory here at AMA Studios.

The tagline for AMA Studios is design

and story at the forefront of technology.

What the technology component means

is the target's always moving.

There's always a new computer.

There's always a new way of communicating.

VR is the latest and greatest

it's been around for years actually.

But you know, it's back in the spotlight,

AR for augmented reality.

There's always another tool and then 3D graphics.

There's always another piece of hardware to learn.

We wield the tools, we are experts at these tools

and at the same time, that's not what it's about.

It's not about those tools at all, it's about messaging.

It's about concepts and connecting with people.

I won an Emmy for my work on Lost,

visual effects for the pilot Lost.

It was a great day.

Red carpet, celebrities, limos.

And people, they see that and

it gets some pats on the back.

But working here at NASA, is a lot longer lasting.

(upbeat music)

I moved here from Portland, Oregon

and I moved here because I want to contribute

to something more lasting, something more significant.

I want to take my skillset

and kind of bring it full circle, bring it back to design,

bring it back to making a lasting impact.

It's a joy to wake up,

it's a joy to participate in this process.

It's a joy to work with people here

and the ideas and capture that in a video

and see our customers, see the engineer's excitement

when they see their idea embodied,

when they see their idea on the screen and the showroom.

(upbeat music)

Art is artifact, it's a thing.

It needs to stand on its own.

If it's a painting in a gallery, hanging on the wall

you don't get to stand next to it

and explain to people what your painting is about.

Art is also the execution, the quality of the craftsmanship

and it's the concept.

So if you have a piece of art that's beautiful

but has no meaning behind it, it's flat.

It's doesn't last, it's not that interesting.

If you have a piece of art that has a lot of meaning

and significance, but it's ugly,

no one's gonna look at it.

And so what we do when we create as we marry the concept

with a beautiful execution, that's when it has legs.

That's when people see it, that's when people are engaged

and interested in the product.

I would also say that traditional media

learning how to draw, learning how to paint

is really important because the computer may render an image

and it's technically accurate and lights here

and the grounds here, but it's ugly.

Computer doesn't know it's ugly.

And so you have to have that traditional art background

to be able to make a judgment call and say,

I think it should look like this.

And then you have to wrestle with the computer

to make it look like that.

(upbeat music)

So I went to school for automotive design.

Automotive design school is really car driving school.

So four years to do car driving school.

And in the early days of car design

they would use a hand painted.

They would do quash and pencil

and they illustrate car design.

It's similar here at NASA.

In the '70s, in the shuttle program, for example

they would do beautiful renderings

of the conceptual spacecraft.

It's cool stuff, I love it.

I love looking at that old art work.

What we bring now is on top of making it beautiful

what we bring now is because it's 3D,

we can actually explode the 3D model

and look at the parts and pieces.

We can integrate landing gear and jet engines

and we can lay out how it looks.

We could spin it around and look at it at different angles.

And it's a marriage of CAD, computerate design

from the engineering world with beautiful renderings

that communicate, it's magic.

(upbeat music)

- Learn more at

Baltimore Maryland's young and talented

take on some of the most renowned and beloved songs

of famed Broadway, musical lyricist, Tim Rice.

It's the culmination of their training

as part of young artists of America.

(crowd cheering)

(instrumental music)

♪ Don't cry for me ♪

♪ Argentina ♪

(crowd clapping)

- I'm Emily Reed,

I'm born and raised from Baltimore, Maryland.

And I go to Baltimore School

for the arts and the acting department.

So Young Artists of America is a training program

and it's sort of split into two sides.

So there's the vocal program

and then there's the like orchestral program.

So I'm a vocalist here.

But basically we put on these huge, awesome productions.

(instrumental music)

♪ Tell me what you think about your friends at the top ♪

♪ How do you think besides yourself it's a pick I'm the crop ♪

- [Emily] We have a bunch of singers

and then a huge orchestra, it's awesome.

They just added this new program, YA Junior,

which is for middle school students.

And so they are a part of our productions.

And then there's the high school program.

♪ Who are you what have you sang ♪

- Songs of Tim Rice, it's a really wide range

of a lot of different styles of music.

And that's the really cool thing about the show

is that it starts in this one place

from a lot of Tim Rice's songs when he was really young.

(instrumentals playing)

♪ What I give is too little ♪

♪ To a life that I will thank thee ♪

♪ I'm here I will sing ♪

♪ I will blurry your imagination ♪

♪ Somehow when we are bored ♪

♪ And we do how and we serve God ♪

- Tim Rice has done "Evita".

Everyone knows "The Lion King", "Jesus Christ Superstar".

I mean like, it's basically just like all these

like huge shows that everyone knows.

- The Young Artists of America

are the same age as Andrew Lloyd Webber and I were

when we started out writing songs and musicals 50 years ago.

(instrumentals playing)

- [Emily] It's like a little community.

That's what I love about YA.

(instrumental music)

People filter out and people like graduate and stuff.

It's a super tight knit community

partly 'cause we spend so much time together.

We're at rehearsal, like for the past couple of weeks

we've been at rehearsal every night.

And so you just bond with them and yeah.

- On this program, we have about 150 students involved

from over 50 schools throughout the DC, Maryland

and Virginia Metro area.

- And because of this program, being what it is,

it's a one of a kind program that is not around many places.

I know on both the orchestral and the choral side,

we have people that drive between an hour and two hours away

to come and be part of this.

- It's a bit of an all-star team.

♪ It my gift ♪

- One of the things we're proudest of

about Young Artists of America

and that has been a part of the organization

since we started is our mentoring program.

So Steven Schwartz has come,

Kristin Chenoweth has mentored our students.

We've had the likes of Andrew Lippa Jeanine Tesori.

All folks that really believe in the mission

of the organization and see that it's not

just another high school musical or orchestra

♪ You must love me ♪

♪ You must love me ♪

(orchestra playing)

- Because orchestra is so big,

we do have some musicians that are not quite

the level of the lead players.

But the whole purpose is that the lead players lead

and the weaker players rise up to that level.

- Hugh, do you know if on Sunday...

Hugh Wooldridge is our director.

He definitely pushes us.

I think one thing that I've learned from it is

I do acting at school and then I do voice here

but connecting the two is hard.

It's not easy, not everyone can do it.

And I remember

one of the first rehearsals that I did

when I was rehearsing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina",

I came in and he said,

"Hold on, hold on, who is this, like, who are you?"

And I was like, and I had some answers, but

I didn't know everything there was to know about Eva Peron.

And he said, go, I mean research it

'cause you need to know everything.

♪ Don't cry for me Argentina ♪

♪ The truth is I never left you ♪

♪ All through my wild days ♪

♪ My mad existence ♪

♪ I kept my promise ♪

♪ Don't keep your distance ♪

♪ You feel alive tonight tonight ♪

When you're around so many people

who are so good at what they're doing

there's like this energy.

And like I saw it and I was like,

I wanna be a part of that.

♪ May he said that was ♪

♪ We lived our very best ♪

- For more Information, visit

And that wraps it up for this edition of WEDU Arts Plus.

For more arts and culture, visit

Until next time I'm Dalia Colon.

Thanks for watching.

(upbeat music)

- [Narrator] Major funding for WEDU Arts Plus

is provided through The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts loving donor who encourages others

to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

(soft music)