WLIW Arts Beat


WLIW Arts Beat - November 1, 2021

In this edition of WLIW Arts Beat, a mixed-media artist reflects on the world around her in her artwork; a public art project that features large, imaginative sculptures of herons; creating sustainable fine jewelry; an international art exhibition that celebrates inclusion and diversity.

AIRED: November 01, 2021 | 0:26:46

[transition music] [theme music]

[intro music]

- In this edition of WLIW Arts Beat.

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- [Narrator] An impactful mixed media artist.

- [Sabrina] My super power is being able

to visually communicate,

how I feel about what's happenin' in the world.

[transition music] [bright music]

- [Narrator] Colorful heron sculptures.

- [Brooke] They go from one end of the spectrum

to the other, from masterpiece fine arts, to fun,

whimsical, wonderful pieces as well.

[transition music] [inspiring music]

- [Narrator] Handmade artisanal jewelry.

- [Micah] I really like taking apart things

and putting it back together.

I want my rings to stand the test of time

[transition music] [upbeat bright music]

- [Narrator] An international art exhibition with a mission.

- [Sarah] We want young kids as well as adults

to understand that their words matter

and their interactions with others matter.

- [Narrator] It's all ahead on this edition

of WLIW Arts Beat.

Funding for WLIW Arts Beat was made possible

by viewers like you. Thank you.

Welcome to WLIW Arts Beat.

I'm Diane Masciale.

- [Narrator] Artist Sabrina Nelson reflects

on the world around her in her meaningful works of art.

In this segment, we head to Detroit, Michigan

to get an inside look at her exhibition.

"Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird?"

and find out more about her creative process.

[inspiring music]

- [Sabrina] I think my medicine is art, my language is art.

I think the term artists means to be responsible

for what's happening in the world,

how you see it, how you record it.

How you make things that are a result

of what you are trying to say.

Whether it's a question you're answering

or a story you're trying to tell

or here's something I need to make

because it's just embedded in me.

Like I have to make something.

Detroit is embedded in who I am.

I've been here all my life, [chuckles]

since the rebellion in 1967, that's when I was born.

And so, everything around me

becomes a part of the story I'm trying to tell

or the question I'm trying to ask.

My super power is being able to visually communicate

how I feel about what's happening in the world.

Nina Simone says, "If you're gonna be an artist,

"it's your duty to reflect what's happening in the world."

And in the world that I live in,

from the time I can remember remembering,

there's always trauma and hurt and pain.

And I'm not always talking about that,

but you can't ignore it.

And on this day, I think about the lives that are lost.

That are constant,

like coming at me through different mediums.

And so I'm thinking about homicides and deaths

of young people and how I'm affected by it.

But I'm talking about death,

where people aren't considered people,

like you don't matter.

You, You're not important.

So, I'm just gonna take your life.

I don't care how old you are.

I don't care who you belong to.

And when that person is missing from our communities,

not just the blood family is affected,

we are all and we should all be concerned.

You know, a life is a life.

A human is a human.

And so, in this work I'm talkin' about that pain.

The name of the exhibition

is "Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird?"

And I got it from a Nina Simone song,

who talks about black women like,

"How dare you try and be happy in your life.

"How dare you not expect pain."

Pain is gonna come.

You have to move through it and you have to live,

but pain will be here.

I didn't want the colors to be so seductive

that it draws you in as pretty.

Like I don't like the idea of my work being pretty.

I want it to be impactful.

I want it to be deeper than just what you see.

And I wanted it to be large enough to have some girth to it.

So these particular pieces are very large drawings.

They're also reliquaries if you will.

So they talk about like the body,

the housing of the bodies that we have, like the home

and then what it's like to have a nest with no eggs in it.

Thinking about the empty nest of children who never return.

You know, I don't care how old they are,

they never can return.

So I'm just talking about the darkness in that

and expressing it with the most eloquence that I can.

The cages will represent empty homes.

That can be the home that they lived in.

That can be the community that they lived in.

How do you deal with that?

You know, that room that's empty.

And so when we lose these people

that are not treated with value out of our communities,

how do you deal with that?

So Lavana is helping me on the dresses

'cause I wanna make dresses

that will hang from the ceiling.

Just above the patron's heads

but the bird cages will be the empty rooms,

underneath the dresses.

And so I'm asking him to help me figure out,

how I'm gonna make the dresses.

Which are made out of Japanese rice paper,

so that they can be sure enough

that the bird cages can go underneath them.

And the patrons can see them with the lighting

and hopefully they have the impact

that's in my head and in my heart.

I want people to pay attention

to it and to be more empathetic with others lives.

If you see something happening

and you can do something about it, why wouldn't you?

And so when I look at the homicide rates across the country,

they're incredibly high.

For African-American indigenous

and also Latin American children.

And so this is all I can say and do about it.

I want someone to know that I care,

even though they're not my children,

I care that they're missing, that they're gone.

That there's, you know, somebody should think

about doing something about it.

The motion of movement when I'm making these things.

Like when I did the nest here, you know,

the motion of drawing and drawing and drawing.

You know that obsession of movement

and what it feels like to do that.

These movements that we do over

and over become very much ritual.

Maybe these are all prayers visually,

to say, "I'm sorry that your life is gone."

But I want to say that you meant something,

that you were important.

Every artist wants someone to look at their work

for a long time.

And I didn't want to make it so obvious

and a truce where it's like, you know,

you see people getting killed.

But I think the work and the drawings

and some of the paintings that I'm using can be seductive.

So I want people to make sure that they walk away

with knowing that I'm in a world I am affected by it.

And don't just listen to the news and be

in the world and not really take part in what's happening.

Think about what your voice is

and what your superpower is and see what you can do to help.

I wanna say something that's important.

And I want to leave this world with something

that someone's learned from me.

My work might be central to draw you in

and then it's gonna slap you a little bit.

And that's what I hope I show.

- [Narrator] To see more of Nelson's artwork,

visit sabrinanelson.carbonmade.com.

[transition music] [calm buoyant music]

And now the artists quote of the week.

In Monroe, Louisiana community members have come together

to develop a remarkable public art project.

Featuring large imaginative sculptures of herons,

Herons on the Bayou, has become a special part

of the landscape. Take a look.

[serene music]

- Herons on the Bayou is a public art project.

We had quite a few projects

that we were working on for the city,

trying to get our environment a little bit more engaged.

We really have been lacking in our public spaces,

art where people can see it,

not just in a gallery or a museum.

And I got the beautiful opportunity

to work with a partner of mine named Marie Thibodeau.

And we started doing murals and public art projects

and really getting out there and showing people

how beautiful art is

and how much it can do for your community.

And the next project that really sort of felt right,

was the Herons on the Bayou project.

Which is projects that you see in lots

of different communities [serene music]

where they'll paint tigers or pigs

and all these fun characters that really mean a lot

to your community.

And we started thinking about what would be an icon

that would represent our community and let's just try it.

We went through the black bear, we went through the catfish.

Lots of things that mean a lot to our state.

But we kept thinking about,

"We're a bayou community."

[serene music intensifies]

We have a lot of water.

And, what is an animal that we see

that maybe we're just forgetting about?

And we love the idea of doing a bird.

It just sort of resonated with us

because you wouldn't normally see a bird done

and they got these really spindly legs.

So it makes it kind of difficult?

We were like, "Well, what about the blue Heron?"

It's this really elegant, beautiful,

to itself bird that you just have to look for.

They're always in our bayous, they're on the campus at ULM,

which is one of our partners for the project.

And we thought, "That would be perfect, let's try it."

And the more we thought about it,

the more it became like the perfect symbol for us,

because it's, it's quiet.

And it's something that you have to look for.

It's not something that just hits you right in the face.

They gave us the opportunity to make our sculpture different

than everybody else's.

Most of the time, they're one solid fiberglass animal,

but we were able to make it a mixed-media sculpture

so we added metal into those legs,

which really makes it different.

We have created 51 of these things in our first round

of the project.

We started the project with the idea

that maybe we would get 20.

And we convinced 20 people to buy them

and let us get artists to paint them.

And we just blew it out of the water.

Our community has just really supported the project

and just really loved it.

We have been blown away

by the amount of design options for the herons.

We had over 250 designs submitted, for 51 herons.

You couldn't dream up some of the things they came up with.

Some of them are doodly.

[upbeat music]

Some of them are naturey.

Some of them are throwbacks to our community.

Like we have one, that's all about cotton

and about the cotton industry.

And then we have others that are about locations,

like our park and our walking trails

and the Bayou and things like that.

Some are dotted, they go from one end

of the spectrum to the other.

From masterpiece fine arts

to fun, whimsical, wonderful pieces as well.

Everybody understands that it takes a team

to make things happen.

And that has just been beyond positive for our community.

Because we were able to go past 20, we have 51 of them.

You do just happen to glance around and there's one there.

If you're driving around town, our community is so small,

that as you're driving around

within a couple minutes of your drive,

you're gonna find one, if you're on the main drives.

If you're on some of our main street,

some of our main community areas, they are everywhere.

You kinda have to be not paying attention to not see them,

which is really wonderful.

When our community is traveling around or gathering together

for an event of any kind.

Some of the best comments that I have are how exciting it is

to spot one.

And this is coming from adults or kids.

Parents will bring their children over to me

and explain how exciting it is for their kids

to be able to see them.

And then they wanna go find all of them.

But, when the kids are done talking,

the parents have just as much excitement about them.

They, on their own, young to old, they want to get out.

They want to find them,

they wanna see all the really fun things in them.

And they want to get out of their cars and look closer

and see all the neat little bits of them.

When we think about our artists

that actually got to paint them,

it brought the kid out

[slow inspiring music] in them as well.

They got to just think of something fun

that they could do on a bird.

Which was kind of something

that they hadn't ever done before.

Most, they're painting on canvases,

they're painting on wood, they're doing commissions

and things like that. This gave them an opportunity.

So once they painted them, in our community,

has just jumped on and just felt like this is a fun game.

This is, let's see how many we can find

and we're doing a way-finding element

so people can go online and they can go,

like have a scavenger hunt and find them.

They're really finding them really fun and exciting.

[inspiring music intensifies]

[upbeat music] - [Narrator] Now here's a look

at this month's fun fact.

Up next, we travel to Reno, Nevada

to meet jewelry artist and Goldsmith Micah blank.

From an idea to a finished work of art,

we get a firsthand look

at how his sustainable fine jewelry is made

and the artistry behind his designs.

[mellow guitar music]

- My name is Micah Blank and I create jewelry.

I make all of my jewelry in the old post office

in downtown Reno in the basement.

I got started in jewelry because I wanted to wear jewelry

and I couldn't ever find jewelry that I liked.

So I decided that I had to make my own jewelry.

I really like gold jewelry, but I like it to be particular

and kind of look a certain way.

I like signet style rings and I like kind of bigger,

heavier pieces.

I like to use a lot of diamonds in 18 karat gold.

I would consider it to be more of a fine jewelry

but I also like it to be just very basic

and kind of minimalist and simplistic.

I make necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings.

I really like to make engagement rings.

I love diamonds, so when people want,

like an engagement ring, I'm just, I get excited

because it's just like a statement piece and I love it.

Usually I start with the stone,

so I'm building a design around a center stone.

So depending on the shape I kind of create,

you know, the lines of it.

And so it's gonna kind of fit with the shape of the stone.

When I sit down to create a piece of metal,

I usually melt the metal in some kind of a crucible

or just some, a form so that I can get a basic shape

of the melted metal.

And then from there, I will draw it into wire or hammered

into a shape that I need.

[slow guitar music]

I really like working with the metal.

It's, it's very pleasing to see that kind of stretch out

and become something out of,

kind of just this lump of gold that I melted down.

I try to keep in mind dimensions

and proportions of the actual jewelry itself.

I don't want to make a ring too heavy,

so that the stone looks smaller.

And I don't wanna make it too small,

so it look like too thin, so it's flimsy.

I try to keep in mind like structural integrity

and things like that.

[hammer banging]

Sometimes people will bring in,

like an heirloom piece of jewelry that they received from a,

you know, a relative either,

whether be their mother or their grandmother.

And the style is a bit outdated

and they just want something, using those stones.

They want it to be a bit more, you know,

current or something unique to them.

And so from there we'll just kind of discuss what they want.

And then we'll take all the stones out

and melt the gold down and start making a really,

really interesting ring using metal

and stones they already have.

[serene guitar music]

I think it's really important to repurpose jewelry

and things that we have, like reversing anything.

So if we can use diamonds that have already, you know...

And we can use recycled gold,

I think that's very important in the process.

You wanna make sure that you are buying something

that you know, like, "Okay, the person has paid a fair wage

"to find this gemstone."

And I think everyone should wanna make sure

that their, you know, their hands are clean so to say,

when they buy their jewelry.

I think the most gratifying part to me is the finished piece

because I know where it started.

I know that it started with just a wire or just a wire

and some stones on my bench.

And then I get to see it kind of evolve into this,

you know actual, it starts to look like a ring.

And then when you polish it or clean it up,

then it starts to look like, and then,

and then you see the finished piece coming out.

Every time we make a piece of jewelry

I just got it, I'm like, "Oh, this is, this is nice."

- [Narrator] To check out more of his designs,

go to micahblank.com.

[upbeat music]

And here's a look at this week's art history.

Embracing Our Differences is a not-for-profit organization

that educates and inspires.

For over 15 years,

they have presented an outdoor international art exhibition

that celebrates inclusion and diversity.

We visit Sarasota, Florida to learn more.

[hopeful music]

- [Sarah] This is our 17th year

at Embracing Our Differences.

Embracing Our Differences is an arts

and education organization,

focused on promoting the importance of diversity, inclusion,

kindness, and respect.

- [Kid] Favorite picture in this whole event--

- Okay come back here and sit down.

- We try to start at the youngest age possible,

teaching these important messages of kindness and respect.

And we want the kids to come back year after year.

So they continue to understand these messages

in different ways through different pieces of artwork.

- Like she's my sister. - And that's why

these high school docents

- Things that we wanna change. - work with the younger kids

and really ask them questions.

They're not there to tell them about the RP's.

They're there to see what the kids see

and what they think

about this RP's. - Okay?

I love being a docent.

I do a lot with kids ordinarily

and there's, its just

[upbeat jolly music] so much fun for me.

Because I love working with kids, I love talking to them.

And then just being able to see the change on their face,

when I say something that really click.

That what they're seeing is important

and it's making a difference.

That is amazing for me.

[children yells]

- [Cliff] I really appreciate Embracing Our Differences

because for me, it ties into what I want to do as an artist.

And as far as making art that has meaning

and just sending a message.

And I think Embracing Our Differences

allows people to do that.

The piece I submitted in Embracing Our Differences

is a photograph of one of the students at the school.

He's a Mexican-American.

And that piece just really

[hopeful music] symbolized people coming

from other countries, especially Mexico,

in search of a better opportunity.

In art, my interest is always been painting people.

And uh, I like to make it more expressive,

kind of abstract using like many different colors

and stuff like that.

But lately I've been trying to focus more on making art

that has a meaning and a purpose behind it

and hopes to create change.

And, that's why I really like Embracing Our Differences

because it allows you to do that and is helping me,

you know, with different ideas on how I could do that.

- [Sarah] I think the draw for Artists

from around the world submit to our exhibit is that,

they're not able to express themselves a lot of times.

Especially about this topic of diversity and inclusion.

So we give them that outlet and that way

that they are able to really put their emotions out there.

- In my art class,

Antonio is one of the students who is more focused

on his artwork during class.

Antonio really gets excited about making art.

And, you know, he was the one or the students

who had opportunity to submit work,

consider Embracing Our Differences

because he really took the time and put in the effort

to make a piece more complete.

- [Antonio] I hope to open people eyes with my artwork.

It was at, that the topic, because other people

and my father are going into war to fight for our freedom.

And they don't wanna kill other people

and they don't want to die, by other people.

I hope people really get it.

- [Sarah] Our goal with the exhibit

as well as our year round education program

is for everyone to start treating others with kindness

and respect.

So we want young kids as well as adults to understand

that their words matter

and their interactions with others matter.

- As a docent, it is our job to try

[inspiring music] and help the little kids

make sense of it.

Various kids have different experiences with the artwork,

they interact with it differently.

It helps if you have a good docent who's expressive

and asking them questions.

- Saw the mice?

- [Sarah] Out of the 16,000 plus submissions,

about 9,000 of them were from students in our community,

in Sarasota and Manatee county schools.

However, the rest of those submissions

come from around the world.

And when you go down to the bay front

and see the 50 art pieces and 50 quotations

that are on display.

About half of them are from places outside of Florida.

So it's really exciting to see the representation.

- [Cliff] I think an exhibit like Embracing Our Differences

is very important, especially in our community

and where we have a lot of diverse individuals

and we might not know where someone else come from.

You know, what their background is, what they go through.

And this exhibit allows them to see a glimpse

of what other people might see.

- [Antonio] When I joined, it made me feel good,

makes me feel relaxed.

Like, nothing is around me,

I'm only focusing on that drawing.

- With Embracing Our Differences,

I'd say that my biggest takeaway has been

that all of these people from around the world come

and try and make a difference in the community.

- I want people to walk away from the exhibit,

thinking about how this art can impact their daily lives

and how these messages can change their interactions

with others, in a more positive way

- [Narrator] Discover more at embracingourdifferences.org.

[transition music]

- That wraps it up for this edition of WLIW Arts Beat.

We'd like to hear what you think.

So like us on Facebook,

join the conversation on Twitter and visit our webpage

for features and to watch episodes of the show.

We hope to see you next time.

I'm Diane Masciale, thank you for watching WLIW Arts Beat.

Funding for WLIW Arts Beat was made possible

by viewers like you.

Thank you.

[upbeat music intensifies]


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