WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 922

Tarpon Springs violinist Caleb Morris turned to music and family to endure a grueling battle with blood cancer. Vibrant artwork covers a large sea vessel. The Cincinatti Ballet shares a dance program that is helping children with special needs. Artist David Butler focuses on the representation of the Black community in his paintings.

AIRED: November 19, 2020 | 0:26:45

- [Announcer] 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",

music helped a Tarpon Springs violinist

fight a grueling battle with cancer.

- When I immediately started doing chemotherapy,

I responded really, really well,

but they were still like, to fix the real problem,

we really would think you need to get a transplant.

- [Dalia] Dazzling wartime camouflage.

- [Emma] Tauba was instrumental in making sure

that her design was accurately rendered.

- [Dalia] Transforming expressions.

- You meet a child who can't say to the world,

this is what I want and this is what I need,

but can communicate through dance, that's amazing.

- [Dalia] And representing beyond the norm.

- [David] If you don't fit into that subject or that theme,

you have to either assimilate to that

or if you have to challenge that system.

- It's all coming up next,

on "WEDU Arts Plus".

(digital music)

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon and this is "WEDU Arts Plus".

Violinist Cal Morris is a familiar performer,

along Tarpon Springs famed Sponge Docks.

Diagnosed with cancer at age 31,

Cal turn to his family and music

in his battle to survive.

- Am I gonna to make it or not?

When you're looking at death

in it's face and you're so scared


- And the way that hours become so precious.

I was like, I don't care if they're horrible hours,

I just want hours.

- Cancer it changes you in a way that I think

a lot of people don't get or can't even understand.

(soft instrumental music)

The world to me just, is music.

At 13, I got interested in the violin,

it came naturally

and I feel like I just so quickly fell in love with it

and I'm not great with words and just communication,

but music is just how I express myself.

It was literally about a month of that,

on and off nauseousness

and after more testing,

We started coming back with,

it looks like it could be a blood cancer,

that was huge blow,

it was something we never expected.

- Cancer is absolute war.


- I can't even go there,

I won't let that happen,

I gotta be there for them.

When I immediately started doing chemotherapy,

I responded really, really well,

but they were still like,

to fix the real problem

we really think you need to do a transplant.

- And someone who has a potentially terminal diagnosis,

it's that one shot.

- It made me feel honestly so grateful to be able to

have the opportunity to give him a prosperous life

with his family and his kids.

- The transplant, that was way, way harder

than I could ever imagine.

- Somebody so strong

and just rolled up into this bald, hairless,

gray human being,

it was so sad to watch him disintegrate like that.

- Subsequently he had additional complications

associated with the transplant

that were not run of the mill complications.

- The pain was so bad, I didn't know

how I was gonna get through the next 10 minutes

and much less an hour or day


- Is he dying right now?

If he is, what would I regret not doing?

And I was like, we need the kids here,

we need to get to be together.

- I didn't pick my violin up

for like two months I was like, I couldn't,

but I would hear this song, just so much music in my head.

I just sat down at my keyboard for the first time

and just wrote this whole song,

I feel like there's so much that's gonna come out

and already has, from this journey.

Really one of the best days of my life,

being able to hug their little...

Feel their little arms just wrapped around me

and wrap my arms around them

and be back together.

- Caleb had made an announcement

that he was going back to the docks

and we dropped everything

and we were like,

this is something we're absolutely not gonna miss.

- But just to go back after that,

coming that close to not making it

and there was hundreds of people there

and so to get to that day

and just see so much love and so much support put out

and it was...

It's hard to describe with words.

- That's like everything,

I mean that's the reason

that people undergo this horrible experience of transplant

and the complications that occur post-transplant,

it's to live their lives again.

- I really got that miracle

that so many people hope for and pray for

and long for.

- For more information,


As part of the commemoration

of the centennial of the First World War,

artist Tauba Auerbach was commissioned

to decorate a historic fireboat,

using a marbling design known as dazzle camouflage.

- Flow Separation is a collaboration

between the Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW,

a UK-based organization.

And their focus is to commemorate

the centennial of the First World War.

14-18 NOW has been dazzling vessels in the UK

and we thought it was really exciting

and appropriate to collaborate them

to bring a dazzled vessel to New York.

Partly because that kind of great history of dazzle ships

is not just relevant to the UK.

But when the U.S. joined the war effort,

thousands of ships were actually dazzled here.

At the time, the artist Norman Wilkinson

invented the concept of dazzle,

I think that on average,

they were about eight ships being sunk a day,

crossing the Atlantic

so it definitely was born out of a desperation.

And it was an idea around camouflage,

but a very unlikely camouflage,

it was intersecting forms and shapes and colors,

all painted on to ships, to vessels

from cargo ships to war ships to passenger ships

and the idea was these patterns and forms and shapes,

would confuse anyone looking at them,

namely the German submarines,

they wouldn't be able to be targeted.

My colleague Jesse Hamerman and I,

we took to the seas,

I think rode every single boat

on the East River and the Hudson,

to try and find the right vessel,

but also the right partner.

I was really struck by the John J. Harvey

because of its very unique history.

It was a vessel that was built in 1931

and was an active fire boat until the 90s

and when it was decommissioned,

was gonna be sold for scraps

and then it was saved by a group of volunteers

and they have been maintaining and operating it since.

And was actually called back into service during 9/11,

it went to lower Manhattan,

it rescued people and then pumped water for 80 hours,

when the mains had gone out in that part of town,

so it also is this iconic hero of New York.

And it just felt like a perfect partner for us

in terms of their mission and their ethos.

When it came to thinking about who would be a great artist

to actually work with us, to dazzle the contemporary vessel,

it felt like the perfect choice to work with Tauba Auerbach.

We could connect her practice

back to sort of early avant-garde thinking

around pushing the medium of paint.

She's also very process-driven.

Tauba was very struck by...

It is this vessel that moves through water,

but also water moves through the body of the vessel itself

and that kind of idea of fluid dynamics,

became the starting point for Tauba

into thinking about her design.

Flow separation is actually a phenomenon

that happens in fluid dynamics.

When you run an object through a body of water,

the fluid will move both forward and backwards

at the same time

creating these incredible patterns.

She chose to work with a very laborious process of marbling,

used that to kind of create an idea of fluid dynamics.

Marbling essentially is putting oils or paints

into a liquid bath

and then you move combs through them,

so you are creating movement within liquid

and then you transfer that pattern onto paper.

How do you take a 2D image

and put it onto a 3D object?

We took it to Cadell's Dry Dock in Staten Island.

First of all it had to go

through all of its unnecessary repairs,

from stripping it down to preparing it,

for us to be able to dazzle it,

creating what's like a blank canvas

and then for about a month,

we had this group of scene painters working there,

scene painters being a group of people

that are able to translate 2D into 3D

and create trompe-l'oeil effects.

So it was a company called Infinite Scenic

and Tauba their everyday painting.

Tauba was instrumental in making sure

that her design was accurately rendered.

No one had seen the John J. Harvey

and then it reemerged with this amazing new look.

Captain of the Circle line#*

radioed in the captain of the John J. Harvey

and was like, what on earth has happened to your boat?

So it's been a nice reaction

from the community that know it

and also bringing a new community

into knowing about the John J. Harvey,

the history of the First World War,

14-18 NOW, Public Art Fund

and of course Tauba as well.

We sometimes forget that we're actually on an island

and we're surrounded by this huge body of water

that connects us to the sea

and New York is New York

because we are surrounded by the water,

the history of its success very much relies

on this body of water,

but we're not so necessarily connected to it

and this project connected us to those people

that work every day and live

and survive off of this body of water.

(scenic music)

- Learn more about Auerbach's work at

For more on Public Art Fund, go to

The Cincinnati Ballet has a very special partnership

with Ohio's Children's Hospital.

See how the nonverbal art of movement,

transcends disability.

(inspiring music)

- The thing about dance that makes it transformative

is this way to connect with other people,

whether you can speak or you can't,

whether you can move everything or you can't.

It raises your vibrational energy

where you're creating this moment, creating space,

creating new thought patterns, new ways of moving,

so it's a beginning

to starting a new way of moving and thinking.

Ballet Moves is a class created

for children with down syndrome and cerebral palsy,

it's a collaboration between us

and Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

The Thomas Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital

is specifically for children with down syndrome

and we connected with some of their physical therapists

who also have a background in dance

and helped us work with Miss Donna, our teacher,

to create a syllabus that is fun and exciting,

but also reaches benchmarks and helps you move along a path

and they are integral in creating that.

- What are we doing?

We're thing, let see you-

We're communicating some of the deepest human feelings

of fun and love

and community, all in this space.

It is so much fun

and it's an opportunity to share the art that I love

and been doing for my whole life

with people I never thought I would be able to touch.

And it is communicating

and it's all those things, the fun,

it's reaching places that I thought I would never go

and it not only physically and mentally, but emotionally,

it's giving them a social contact,

which is really important to the parents,

they say, they need some type of social interaction

and we work really hard to make that happen,

having children go down the floor,

holding each other's hands or Dosey Doe,

doing things with partners to help with that part.

- A lot of children with disabilities

have trouble expressing themselves,

so they might have speech and language delays,

so I think Ballet Moves gives them a means

of physical expression.

And then in terms of building relationships,

I think Ballet Moves has brought together people

that wouldn't otherwise come together

or interact on a daily basis,

so I think it's really brought together the arts community

and the disability community

and by forming those relationships,

they learn more about each other

and can develop a better appreciation for one another.

- It's awesome, we have a couple of kids who are nonverbal,

but that doesn't mean they're non-communicative,

so you meet a child who can't say to the world,

this is what I want and this is what I need,

but can communicate through dance

and can learn steps and do all these other things,

that's amazing, for me.

(upbeat music)

Donna is a former professional dancer

with Cincinnati Ballet.

She has been teaching future dancers

in our academy at Northern Kentucky university,

at CCM and CPA

and this was her first big foray

into children with disabilities.

And she is the perfect person

because she believes in excellence,

I'm like, we don't have to get anything done,

she's like, oh no, no,

we have a level of excellence

that we're going to achieve.

- A dancer's body is the instrument

and so every movement we do can express something

and I just think it's so great.

With these children,

so many of them are non-verbal

that they can do their pantomime,

we listen and we look and we think

and they're expressing those types of things

by their movements.

- Miss Donna is caring and thoughtful.

I think a lot of people can have preconceived notions

about what children with disabilities

are able or not able to do,

but she just doesn't have that

and so, by not having those preconceived notions,

she doesn't set any limits on the kids

and therefore they grow so much more

than you might've ever imagined.

- And last one and-

The challenge to me is getting a balance

of the right amount of ballet, fun,

physical activity besides the ballet,

communicating emotions

and so, for me, I always wanna get

in their plies and tendus

and jumps on one foot or jumps on two feet,

traveling across the floor,

so I have that ballet class formula.

But it changes all the time

and sometimes the plies and tendus just are not working,

so we put on the Goldfish music,


- [Julie] Class right now meets on Saturdays

we have three classes,

eight students are in each class

and each student has a helper,

who's a physical therapy or occupational therapy student

and then we have Ms. Donna Grisez-Weber is teaching

and a physical therapist from Cincinnati Children's

that's leading the class

and then there'll be either someone on piano or drum

and sometimes both.

- We start out in a circle

and I like to do something

where each child is called by name

and stands up as an individual

and they have a task,

it could be coming to the circle and strike a pose

or dance for us with your maraca or whatever,

but they hear the music, the stand up music,

they come out and do whatever their task is

and they hear the sit down music,

so that they're able to just be queued by the music,

which is really neat, I think.

So they're listening

and they're learning all kinds of skills,

wait your turn, listen for your name, follow instructions,

all kinds of skills.

- We always end with saying thank you to each other

and lining up and saying thank you to our teacher

and to the drummers and to our helpers and ourselves.

Sometimes we do that with words

and always we do with signs

to say thank you to the teacher, physician.

One of the first side benefits that we noticed

after the first year is that,

mostly the moms sit outside the classroom

and so they've become this like support system

for each other

and that's such a great place for them to come and sit.

- For our daughter, it's given her a love of the arts

and a love of dancing

and the love of ballet specifically,

while not only developing her from a social standpoint,

but focusing in on some of those

physical therapy aspects as well.

- What you need to know about these families in particular,

is that they are loving to be loved,

they are looking for love and support

and they are the most generous families

I've ever met in my life.

Well I've fallen in love with all the families

and it's changed what I do,

it's changed who I am,

it has changed everything, it's the focus of my job,

it's changed who I am as a person for sure

and it's definitely changed the mission

of Cincinnati Ballet, permanently.

- Find out more about this work

by visiting

Artist David Butler

is working to fill the void of the black communities

representation in the arts.

We visit him inside the Blockfort Art Studios

in Downtown Columbus, Ohio.

(soft piano music)

- I've always painted, I've always drawn,

I've always told stories,

but I've gotten into narrative painting and portraiture

more so in the last seven or eight years.

I made it my mission to try to bring narratives

of people who look like me more into my work.

What's wrong with advocating for more

of your stories being told?

And that's always like the weird thing,

I would go on channels people would be like,

what's the wrong I'm doing by saying,

I wanna to see more black people on my TV screen,

I wanna see more black people in my paintings,

I wanna see more black people everywhere,

like in everything?

Because, I exist in a world

where I see black people every day

and you do too.

Being black is only part of the experience,

when you're getting to know me,

my blackness is just like the first thing

that you're gonna notice,

I know who I am,

I know that I'm African-American,

heterosexual, cisgendered male,

who exists in a world that has socially constructed ideals,

so, why not place those ideals

and challenge those ideals in my work?

We usually are always pitting ourselves

up against a white standard

that was never built for us to exist in.

That trail has already been laid for white males

to walk through fairly easy

and if you don't fit into that subject or that theme,

you have to either assimilate to that

or you have to challenge that system.

I was reading this book, talking about the history

of the black image through cartoons

and it made me investigate other identities,

like how we perceive people of color

throughout our entire lives,

through the lens of cartoons,

in comic book strips

and it's built these stereotypes

out of these fun images or playful images.

But also last on to the symbol of the coloring book,

now how in our millennial age,

adult coloring books are a thing.

And so 'cause we were introduced to color in general

through a coloring book as a child,

but now color is being expressed to us as adults

as this thing to build your brain,

you can build your brain through learning how to color.

But in our society now,

color is an issue still

and nobody wants to build their brain

to understand color on a social context.

So for me, placing people of color

in these coloring book pages

and with these colored images

that are stereotypical images, right?

So I placed the stereotypical images in there with them

and it builds this world that they exist in,

this world that doesn't exist,

so we're understanding color as adults, in a literal sense,

but not understanding like people of color today.

So it was my role as a artist

just taking you into that world,

it's like my grand hall of oppression,

because I want you to feel the way I do.

Being of color in this world is like a gift and a curse,

because you love yourself, you love your identity,

but the world doesn't necessarily love you back.

- To see more visit

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

For more arts and culture,


Until next time, I'm Dalia Colon, thanks for watching.

(instrumental music)

- [Announcer] 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.

(digital music)