Lea Pollak has lived in Oak Park, Michigan his whole life. He was raised Orthodox and grew up attending Young Israel Synagogue in Oak Park, he was diagnosed with ADD and depression in second grade. He has five brothers, four older and one younger. He attended Akiva Hebrew Day School, graduating in 2013. In high school he was involved in the National Council for Synagogue Youth, a division of the Orthodox Union. He also attended Oakland Community College for two and a half years, taking courses in psychology and the visual arts.
Finding His Place
For many years, he had displayed an interest in the visual arts. Following Rosh Hashanah, his mother mentioned to him that the Friendship Circle was opening an art studio in West Bloomfield. She thought he might enjoy getting involved with the project. In early October, he visited the Farber Soul Center and immediately fell in love. He had not previously been involved with Friendship Circle, but liked the idea of being a part of the art center. Pollak describes his experience in the Soul Studio, “[I like] seeing people with disabilities creating beauty, and seeing friendly and devoted staff and volunteer members working with the artists in the studio one-on-one. They know how to to tailor their teaching methods to each individual student. And there is no pressure for a grade.”
Pollak believes that words are not enough sometimes, but through his art he is able to communicate his emotions more effectively. “Words are inefficient. With art, anger can be red. There can be varying degrees of the red, and different textures can convey levels of an emotion. I have been doodling for a very long time.” He believes he focuses better when his hands are moving. Pollak has created several pieces in the Farber Soul Studio including a scarf inspired by the British television series Doctor Who.
Pollak’s art is influenced by the style used in japanese manga novels and the popular Pokemon series. He is a self proclaimed, “nerd” that enjoys being, “immersed in Japanese pop culture.” He said he is currently working on a “nerdist” print incorporating various fandoms and a quote from author John Green, “Nerds like us are allowed to be un-ironically enthusiastic about stuff.” Pollak hopes to see the print placed on posters, mugs, notebooks, etc.
“I’m Home Here.”
“By working at the Soul Center, as someone who works in various media of art, I’m able to create art while receiving instruction.” Pollak says. To people or artists in particular who want to get involved with the Soul Center but are apprehensive or afraid to do so, Pollak says that “coming here affords numerous opportunities to grow as an artist and to learn new techniques. Also, the staff and volunteers create a super-friendly environment. I’m home here.”Pollak is excited for the Center’s bright future, including new additions such as the woodworking and framing studio. He is especially looking forward to getting use the 3D printer and seeing new talent come to the studio.