‘We need hope right now’ Haitian artist and Tampa Bay area students paint HOPE sculpture

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- Haitian artist Junior Polo is hoping to bring hope to the Tampa Bay area. 

On Monday, Polo, along with Prodigy Cultural Arts students and Uptown/University Area residents, painted the artist’s latest structure that spells out the word “HOPE.” 

“We need hope right now actually, you see what has happened in the world right now,” said Polo, professional artist and an art instructor for the University Area CDC’s Prodigy Cultural Arts program.

The sculpture, located in  in Harvest Hope Park and funded by Florida Blue, consists of bright, colorful letters constructed of treated wood and body filler that spell out the word “HOPE.” Tampa Bay area artist Johao Rios tells WFLA.com he has spent the last two months helping Polo to bring the sculpture to life. 

“The layers on here…are actually covered in auto bondo. So, a lot of the bondo work was done by myself,” said Rios.

The sculpture’s heart-shaped letter “O” is also filled with messages of hope written and submitted by people from all across the world including Prodigy student 11-year-old Rayne Bailey who tells WFLA.com, Jesus Christ brings her the most hope.

“A lot of worry and pandemic and stuff and everything else is going on right now,” said Bailey. So, I like to tell people about Jesus. He died on the cross for everyone’s sins and was buried and rose again three days later.” 

“The whole message that behind it and the time capsule is really something that’s very interesting and the message that comes along with it and hope and always persevering and always hopping to having something to look forward to, is just an idea and something that I can really get behind,” said Rios. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my message in on time but my message is all over this sculpture, you know, with my brush strokes.” 

Polo tells WFLA.com, his hope is that the heart on his sculpture will serve as a time-capsule and one day be opened and shared. In the meantime, he wants his latest display to inspire the public to keep their faith in what has been a difficult time for many. 

“When you don’t have any hope you stop functioning. It’s like okay, you down. But when you have hope, you know, your eyes is open. Now you say, ‘okay, I want to move on. I want to move up.’ This is what I want this to inspire other people when they see this,” Polo said.  

The unveiling of the HOPE sculpture will be next Monday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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