As a way of exploring how the COVID virus has impacted creativity and consciousness, New Observations podcast is interviewing a series of visuals arts to discuss how their own art has been impacted since the beginning of the year when the virus first hit the East Coast. 
Sculptor Leah Poller lives in Harlem and was greatly impacted when Manhattan locked down, with residents, institutions, businesses and the social scene completely shutting down.  Her experience is rather unique in that her life involves a great deal of international travel.  Leah shares her bronze portraits here with us as well as her internal dialogue.
Her work can be found at her website:
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  1. Thank you for these examples of the enormous kinetic power that can exist in sculpture.

    Thinking of the drawings I have seen of extra-terrestrials, a leap in human understanding might result if any of those 2-D drawings could be transferred to 3-D sculpture. In addition, I would someday like to see a sculpture that shows a human sitting near an extra-terrestrial, or near an alternate reality such as that observed by some at the US Pine Ridge Native American reservation.

    The current COVID-19 pandemic may be followed by others in the coming decades, unless human interactions with Earth’s wild areas are curtailed (examples of key factors there being diet, living spaces, and the like). The new book How To Survive A Pandemic, by Michael Greger, MD has many references on those topics.

  2. Mia Feroleto’s comment in this interview about the problem of reduced US funding for arts education reminds me of a breakthrough book on the subject, written by a professor at the UCLA School of Education. He found a great deal of research that demonstrates the strong link between high school students’ coursework in the visual and performing arts and their academic grade point average (GPA) during their years in arts programs. Briefly, students taking arts courses show a large increase in their GPA. Link discussing that paperback book:

    In the USA, many, perhaps a majority, of public high school principals (who exert great control over the scope, even the existence, of high school arts programs) are former football program coaches. Because of that, their personal experience with any arts programs is small to vanishing. That creates a vast gap of understanding between the average US high school principal and any arts courses or arts teachers. Apparently, US school boards often select former football program coaches who have completed the training for a US school administrator’s certificate because those former football program coaches are good at fund-raising. Many people are unaware of this school board personnel selection motivation, and how therefore those high school principals feel justified in manipulating those high school arts programs almost out of existence.

  3. Thank you for your comment INDY.

    The goal of these talks with artists is to encourage others to connect to their own creativity which provides the driving force for internal and external change. We are on the brink of A New World, as Whitley so generously shared with us a year ago. IF (big IF) we have the balls to build it.

    These works were made by hand and as I discuss next interview with Rachel Portesi, contain energy that is transmitted to us, the viewer, whenever we see them.

    Artists are visionaries and I am particularly interested in hearing about the subtle changes in consciousness they have experienced during the time of the virus.

  4. The public school system has all but eliminated the arts from their curriculum. This is by design and a huge mistake. My education in the arts has been the great gift of my life. In tandem with my spiritual path, it has provided me the skills to imagine and bring to fruition what I imagine. The artist create from nothing each and every day, whether by creating a painting or words on a page. Creativity is critical to our humanity and personal development. We are all artists.

  5. I could not agree more! The destruction of arts curricula in public education has been a cultural catastrophe. Arts are actually the basis of education, because without the arts, the rest of the curriculum lacks dimension and meaning.

    If we don’t learn from the beginning about how we have sought to see ourselves and our world, there is no cultural foundation. Art-starved children are left culturally adrift.

  6. In this wide-ranging discussion with sculptor Leah Poller, at one point our interviewer shares the comment that in her US region (rural Northeast area), people appear to be coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. But in November 2020, the US, especially rural areas, is seeing increasing hunger problems because of the pandemic. Here is 1 link on that:

    When my child was in a Cub Scout group in a mountain area of Los Angeles county, the scoutmaster asked at our September meeting for a volunteer to conduct a food drive for local hungry families, since that group had not done so in many years. There was a vast silence in response, so after the meeting I told the scoutmaster I would do it. My family gave me a budget of $300.00, but my 1st step was to interview a food wholesaler from our Cub Scouts parents group. He was a gold mine of information, and told me he would give me a bunch of food baskets, and that it’s best to make the basket contents uniform, to eliminate picking/choosing among recipients. I went to the manager at our nearby Trader Joe’s store to ask for donations, and explained that I would write a brief article for our canyon newspaper, thanking the participating merchants. So he asked me what types of products I was looking for, and I listed dry goods that carry and store well. Then he said, “go pick out what you need from these store shelves,” so I did. I may be making this process sound dry or matter-of-fact, but the truth is that I was terrified at each step, and only kept the project going by prayer and by asking the universe for all available help and direction. Our new elementary school principal explained to me that school buses all have trunks, which I did not know, and that food baskets could be distributed that way; working together, we sent food baskets home the day before Thanksgiving weekend. One difficulty was in identifying needy local families, which is usually confidential information. I decided to distribute the remaining food baskets at our local trailer park, especially among families there w/ children. I ended up giving the # of food baskets based on # of children in each family. One dad recipient was so surprised by my donation that his 1st try at saying thanks was blocked by his spontaneous tears of gratitude.

    What I learned from that experience is that US hunger is a silent problem; it take persistent looking to find the needy community members. In reading The Great Influenza, a historical study of the 1918-1920 global waves of the influenza pandemic that started in the USA, newspaper reporters in those days did not do in-depth reporting on hunger problems caused by that pandemic, because it was depressing reading. When the pandemic ended, there finally was more in-depth reporting on the financial devastation caused for so many US families, but most newspaper readers reacted with guilt, because most of them did nothing to help at the time; so that guilt motivated most of the population to move on from the subject of the pandemic in order to forget that suffering.

    Now in November 2020, the availability of non-profit news reporting groups and online updates, including hunger maps – at least in the US – gives us all much more specific ways to track today’s pandemic hunger problems and how to constructively respond.

  7. Dear INDY,

    I am truly grateful to you for your posting above. It is up to each of us to realize that acts of kindness are the path for our own spiritual development. We are our brothers keeper. The virus is the leveling field that is meant to provide each of us the opportunity to understand what half the world population suffers with daily: survival. Service to others is where we find happiness.

    Living in Manhattan for eighteen years, my focus was on the homeless population there. My first event in 1987 raised over one hundred thousand dollars and was given to three organizations working with the homeless in New York City. I went on to create ARTWALK NY which raised approximately one million dollars annually for Coalition for the Homeless.

    Random acts of kindness are the way for each of us to participate in our communities. No matter how big or how small that act might be. No one needs to know. I try to give back more than I receive. It is a good way to pay it forward.

    Thank you for sharing that with us. You are an inspiration!

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