WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 919

USF's Contemporary Art Museum presents The Neighbors: Slide Shows for America, a photography exhibition. Louisiana artist Douglas Bourgeois paints the natural world around him. The Repertory Dance Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, spreads the power of dance to students through educational programs. Animals at the Sacramento Zoo create works of art.

AIRED: October 08, 2020 | 0:26:29

(Upbeat music)

- This is a production of WEDU, PBS.


Major funding for WEDU ARTS PLUS is provided through


who encourages others to support your PBS station,

WEDU and by the PINNELAS community foundation,

Giving Humanity a Hand Since 1969.

- In this edition of WEDU ARTS PLUS

USF's new photo exhibition brings

the community together virtually.

- We invited these five artists to give us a look

at their community.

- Painting fantastical relationships.

- I had done paintings of Emily Dickinson with the rapper

Rakim they're paired together on an Island because they're

both poets.

- The power of dance.

- We like to think that we ignite the creative voice

in students of all ages.

And through dance.

They can tell their stories

- And zoo animals expressing their artistic side.

- When lemurs are painting.

It's a definitely a different reaction

compared to chimpanzees.

- It's all coming up next on WEDU ARTS PLUS.

(Upbeat music)

- Hello, I'm DALIA COLON.

And this is WEDU ARTS PLUS.

Many museums are closed due to the pandemic.

So USF's contemporary art museum in Tampa is bringing its

latest exhibition to you.

(slide projector changing)

- Well, the exhibition is called,

"The neighbors slideshows for America"

It's five commissioned photographic slide shows

or photographic portfolios,

from five artists who lived and work in America.

(Upbeat music)

We invited these five artists to give us

a look at their community.

- The idea really is to sort of get a composite view

of America at a time when that composite view is being

contested seriously, contested

both in our electoral process

but also in the culture. So what we wanted to do is to

to basically hand off

the idea of coming up with that composite view.

To five brilliant photographers.

(upbeat music)

- So each of them gave us they were digital.

So we put these into slide format.

So believe it or not

there's still places that will make slides for you.


So you get the idea of being in a darkened room with the

sound of the slide projectors changing.

So what sort of brings up that whole nostalgic

aura of being in a community ,

watching slides together in a darkened room.

- So what we wanted to do at the museum with this show

was really to appeal to some of that too,

to appeal to that community,

maybe lost community or community in construction.

- You know, this is a very interesting,

shall we say time for our country?

There's a lot of division. There's a lot of mistrust.

And I think this is a really good time to remind ourselves

of who we are and what makes us strong.

And that's really our diversity.

- There is a, a great photo by Kathya Maria Landeros

of probably the daughter of a farm worker

and remember farm worker Latino holding a sparkler

during the 4th of July.

There is a beautiful picture of a young boy

dressed in hasidic clothing,

overlooking the Brooklyn Queens expressway

in Williamsburg America's city.

There is a picture by Kurt Hammelburgof men taking down

a flag, and it seems to be draped all over his head

with cornfields behind him.

And then there's a lot of photographs of a family.

(slow piano music)

- Even though I do photograph in my family

and in communities that I know,

it just feels like people are very vulnerable right now.

(Slow piano music)

- Think I'm just becoming more resourceful

and finding ways to continue creating the work

that I need to make.

But in a way that truly, you know,

feels safe to me right now.

- We have each one of the projections taped, videotaped

and available on the website,

which is the way viewers will be able to experience the show

essentially until we hit phase three and we can allow

a limited number of people to walk through.

- But we kind of wanted to hedge our bets,

not knowing what's gonna happen.

Could we make it both real and virtual?

The challenges are,

it's never going to be the same as walking into a gallery

and seeing work firsthand.

And having the experience of being

able to actually be in that space.

And you can converse with the works.

You can see one work next to another work

and see how the curator has placed them in conversation.

And so it's never gonna be the same as that real life

kind of acquaintanceship with the works.

On the other hand, it's always there when you want it.

And the other hand, it makes the work available to them,

really broad range of people.

And, you know, an almost unlimited number of viewers.

- We are in apart together mode.

And I think this is one way in which we can

arrive at some more of that togetherness

and I think that's fundamental.

- Right now what else can you do?


We are planning on always having some kind of virtual

element tour exhibitions,

even when we're gonna be completely open.

And so I don't think that's ever going to go away.

I think we're just, I think we artists

and curator, et cetera.

I think we're just on the threshold

of what virtual exhibitions

can eventually be.

So it's kind of exciting to think of the landscape that's

out there that we can explore.

- See more at

- Louisiana artist, Douglas Bourgeois straddles between

painting the natural world and painting pop culture.

He traces the life of his work from earlier canvases

to more recent creations.

- Today we're in Sanama Louisiana to visit the home

and studio of artists Douglas Bourgeois,

Let's take a look.

(slow piano music)

- Besides a few years spent in new Orleans in the 70's,

you've lived and worked here in your childhood home

in Sanama all the way through.

Talk to us a little bit about the way that the rural

environment impact your work.

- First of all, I needed to get here just to,

just to sort of find some peace and quiet.

at a certain point, that Louisiana landscape,

the natural habitat sort of, kind of creeping

into my paintings, which before then

had been more pop culture,

sarcastic, ironic.

And I had, you know, certain people

who saying what's all this nature, crap.

They just didn't, they didn't understand it.

And, I said, you know, Oh, okay.

I know what I'm dealing with now.

So I just kept plugging away.

And, then it got stronger and stronger and stronger.

And I realized I could reconcile both things.

- What's the lifecycle of a Douglas Bourgeois painting.

Talk us a little bit through your process of creation.

- Most of the paintings I do,

I'd say all of them have people in them.

So it's usually about one character who is alone.

And then there might be another character or an apparition.

I think in the last few years,

I did some paintings where there was a living twin.

And then the ghost of the twin who had passed away appears

to the living twin.

They stem from,

religious tradition of these enunciation payments.

So that's kind of where that started for me.

These the paintings where, you know,

the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary

and tells her, you know, sh she's been chosen.

And a lot of my later paintings, you know, would just,

there would be switched out by a Saint

appearing to ordinary person.

And, you know,

frankly not very elevated,

but just, you know, a guy with tattoos

or a girl in her bedroom slippers,

you know, and, and then later,

instead of sainted figures or sacred figures,

it might be Dean Martin

or someone like that.

So because you wanna change the formula,

you say, Oh, what,

and then there's another painting where

I had this African American man in his bathroom and shaving,

and he's got no clothes on. And they're like,

you know, there's like the stained,

it's like a typical 1940s type of interior.

Rust you know, very Louisiana there's mold.

And then instead of the angel appearing,

it turned into a policeman with his gun drawn.

and this was I think, 1990.

And I didn't think of it as political, but, you know,

just by default, it sort of is so,

but it was called mistaken identity because I knew people

that, that had happened to in New Orleans


I just thought, he's an every person

it's like an Alfred Hitchcock movie where

the wrong person gets hauled off to jail.

And, you know, we know that this happens

not every day, but it does happen.

So, but in particular, if you know,

you were black and saw this painting,

you automatically assume it was a social commentary

and I'd be like, you could see it that way.

Certainly. But to me, I want it to represent

black people,

you know, as like the rest of us go, you know,

having going through our day and then something horrific

happens so.

- Many paintings feature, highly recognizable musicians

and icons of the pop era,

others, unsung heroes.

Could you tell us a little about how you choose to paint

or not to paint a particular character?

- I almost think of the two different groups of portraits

as maybe being

different schools, like

the portraits of every person's or, you know,

where I just want to do somebody that is anonymous.

you know, and the tribute pieces are more about me honoring,

you know, like somebody, well, I mean,

I've never done a painting of van Gogh,

but he would be a great subject just because

he labored in obscurity, you know.

And I had done paintings of Emily Dickinson

with the the rapper, Rakim.

They're paired together on an Island.

And because they're both poets

and Rakim did get some fame, but now, you know, it's,

he's sort of past his payday.

And so there's a vulnerability in these people who

are high achievers,

artistically, and then there's, is there ultimately a fall

I mean from grace or from achievement.


No, they're still these burning stars to me,

you know, they still retain what, what they've done already,

you know, is enough.

What I see in the obscure performers and artists

is, you know, the way they bring their gift

to other people and how they

share it.

And you know, that sort of makes them special

but their human side makes them like the rest of us.

- To learn more, check out

The repertory dance theater in salt Lake city Utah

has been spreading the power of dance since 1966.

The company offers educational programs

that inspire tens of thousands

of students and teachers each year.

(feet stomping and clapping)

- Kids need a way to express.

Yes, it is very important that they're able to speak

and articulate intelligently,

but let's be real there's moments where we're not

comfortable doing that.

And kids need an outlet

and to be able to move

and to be able to be creative

and express in a different way is so important and vital.

(stomping feet and clapping)

- It's important to teach dance for many reasons.

I think one is


personally feel that

you have to teach kids how to use their bodies

and not be afraid to move.

- We like to think that we ignite the creative voice

in students of all ages and through dance.

They can tell their stories.

They can create, they can explore.

Students can develop all kinds of attributes that help them

become complex thinkers,



as well as followers.

They are really able to develop themselves

and articulate who they are through dance.

(playful flute music)

♪ one foot ♪

- Repertory dance theater RDT was founded in 1966,

as a professional modern dance repertory company,

which was unusual and daring at the time,

very revolutionary and were still revolutionary.

Generally we serve around 25 to 27,000 students a year,

and that is within the breadth of our programs.

So whether we are going to them or they are coming here

to see a show or something, that's every program.

(Drums playing)

We offer creative movement classes,

which is where we go into the school.

And we teach one classroom at a time

creative movement session,

which can be anywhere from a half an hour to 45 minutes.

And that kind of depends on the school's schedule.

I leave that up to them.

We also offer assemblies where the students will all come

into the gym and the company will come and do a performance.

We also do in the schools,

professional development for the teachers themselves,

if they're interested in doing more movement

in their classrooms.

And then they're also welcome to come here to the theater

to see for it or whatever

show we are doing that year geared

towards elementary students.

And with that, we offer a study guide

and also some different ideas

for them to take back to their school

and use inside the classroom.

(slow piano music)

- I've been working with RDT since 2004,

But more closely in the last six years since I've been here

at Northwest.

In my time here at Northwest, RDT

has also asked me to be on the board.

To help with the educational component.

And RDT works very closely with my students

throughout the year.

- When I took the class at school, it was

at first, it felt kind of uncomfortable.

But then as we went on,

I was getting really used to most having a lot of fun.

And the best part of it was when we got to go on field trips

or when we all were able,

to like when the teacher had us make our own beats.

And then when we all presented it together,

sounded really cool.

- I like that they don't treat us as like we're little kids.

They treat us as if we adults

and that we can add all our own.

And that they'll be like, here's the choreography

i want you to learn it and show me how you do it.

And maybe we can make some changes to adjust for you

and what type of human you are.

- All of the teachers were like really encouraging and very

like energetic. So that brought a lot of the kids,

including me up a lot.

So like we have more confidence on ourselves

to dance in front of all those people.

- You need something, that'll be like there

to be like, Oh, i get to go to dance class now.

And I get to be my own person.

I get to come up with some choreography.

I get to use my own music.

And that's what we do here at Northwest middle school

is we make sure that we get to come up with our own dances

and our teacher, she's just like here,

I'll pick your music and you can just throw whatever you

want in it. And I'll come check

and make sure it's something different

that you're not used to.

And I want to push you further than you usually are.

That's why I think the arts are important because it pushes

you to do things that you're not used to.

- I also appreciate the fact that RDT

is an incredibly diverse company

and their dances come from all different walks of life.

My school is very diverse.

I think we have 29 countries represented

and 32 languages that are spoken

and RDT has Caucasian, African American,

Latin American dancers.

And my students really need to be able to see

people who look like them.

- After we leave a school, we always leave them with

as many ideas as I can possibly give them physically

in their email,

in their binds,

through just experience as I can.

And then I just hope that they will take one or two ideas

and try them out.

See what happens.

- Our world needs dance. Our world needs art.

RDT is at the forefront of pushing for just that.

we all know that the arts are at the very top

of the chopping block when it's time to get rid of something

in education.

And what I absolutely love about RDT is they are there

to say no and push and make sure that our students are being

served the way that they need to be served.

And I will be supportive of RDT and what they stand for till

the day I die.

- Well, you know, we really believe in the power of dance.

It can change lives, it can inspire students.

It can help them connect with the world at large,

it can help validate who they are.

And all you really need to do is go into a theater and be

open to the ideas, the music,

the language of, of movement.

And we know that we can change lives through dance.

- Find out more by visiting

- At the Sacramento zoo in California,

animals get the opportunity to create works of art.

It's all part of a program to help strengthen

the relationship between the animals and their trainers.

(Upbeat music)

- We use offer and conditioning here at the zoo.

So if an animal chooses not to participate in any of the

activities we have scheduled for them, they don't have to.

So sometimes our animals will just sit there and stare at us

That's enriching as well.

They can watch others paint.

Well, behavioral enrichment programs have been part

of the zoo community for decades and decades,

making sure to enrich our animals and give them new unique

opportunities that they would experience.

Had they grown up in the wild and here in human care,

making sure they have a similar type of behavioral

atmosphere that they would in the wild.

We don't have any rules for our art here at the zoo.

The animals can experience it. However they like,

but painting is kind of new

because it gives us an opportunity

to enrich our animals in kind of a different artistic way.

So we thought it would be entertaining for the visitors

to watch.

It'd be a good bonding experience between the animals

and their keepers, and everybody loves to paint.

So we figured our animals would too.

it's a tempera base paint.

So it's just exactly what you would use for your children.

(upbeat music)

- When lemurs painting,

it's a definitely a different reaction

compared to chimpanzees.

Chimpanzees do seem to be very aware when we are getting

something ready for them,

and we'll see those excited behaviors and vocalizations that

they do.

With lemurs. They're really food motivated.

So they'll just notice that you have a cup of treats,

and if you have a target pole like the yellow ball,

They really can just connect those dots and say that, Oh,

they're about to start a target training session.

And so oftentimes they'll run right over to the target.

(Upbeat music)

So during painting, we have a few different options.

If the chimpanzees are all separated,

we can do some one-on-one painting sessions,

or if they're all together,

we can do a co-op painting if you will.

And that's where the personalities come into place.

Maria, who is Amelia's daughter.

She is 16 years old,

and she has learned a lot from her mother.

She is very expressive. So if she's upset,

she will let you know,

and she'll let all the other chimpanzees know.

Amelia and Maria have no problem just

pushing right to the front and taking over

the painting session.

The boys who are a little less confident can have their turn

when they're all separated for feedings.

(upbeat music)

You can watch their mind trying to see what they wanna

do with the paintbrush.

So if they turn around and start painting the walls,

you can really feel some sort of self expression.

If they decide that they just want to smear some fun stuff

all over the walls or the floors of their enclosure,

they're done.

I think I have gotten a little bit closer

with these animals,

and I've built a little bit of trust by doing some of these

painting and training sessions and enrichment programs

with them.

- There are a lot of purposes to this painting.

It's not just for the animals to show art

its for us to maybe

get in touch with our animals in a different way.

A lot of our animals are protected contact,

so we can't get our hands on them.

Let's say an animal needs an ultrasound.

Maybe they need South put on their foot.

Maybe they have an injury to a toenail.

If we've worked with our keeper staff to maintain

a trustworthy relationship,

and they've had fun with their keepers,

paint is no different than ultrasound gel.

So you can put that on the animal.

They've experienced this before.

So it's a win-win situation for the keeper,

as well as the animal.

If we stopped to that painting program

and behavioral enrichment we have here,

I think some of the animals would definitely

be disappointed. The hedgehog may not notice,

but the chimpanzees after about three or four months would

maybe notice. Hey, we're having as much color as I used to.

I'm not getting to interact with those fun things.

And then it's just little bit less

of a sensory treat for them.

So we'd have to find other ways of engaging those animals.

So that would be a little bit of a work in a stretch

for us to find other ways because they really do enjoy it.

And it's part and parcel to making their lives as best as

as they can be here in human care.

(upbeat music)

- Learn ore about the SACRAMENTO ZOO at

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)

- Major funding for WEDU ARTS PLUS is provided through


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.

(Upbeat music)