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Neysa Page-Lieberman: Public Art at the Intersection of Public Justice – Joel Goldberg Media

Culture / October 25, 2022

Inclusivity can take many different forms but will always be a winning strategy. Some might accept it as an openness to different perspectives that can broaden, sometimes even challenge, our own. It helps us to learn and develop more critical, well-rounded decision making. Inclusivity can also be as simple as telling the stories of those who played supporting – but pivotal – roles in the story.

I see it in action every day as a sports broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals. In my post-game interviews, I speak with one player who made a standout play during the game. And as I help them tell the story of that moment, it’s never without  mention of a teammate, coach or supporter who contributed to their success. That’s because there are always other people who deserve credit, even if they aren’t necessarily in the spotlight.


It’s one of many lessons from the ball field that resonates with the corporate audiences I keynote to. Maybe because making colleagues feel like valued members of the team is such a small thing to do, but makes such a long-lasting impact on a businesses success. One recent guest on my podcast Rounding the Bases has elevated inclusivity even beyond the corporate world, into the public landscapes of yesteryear and tomorrow.

She’s someone who has curated a new school of thought in the house of feminist practices. As a champion of equality, she demands a voice for the invisible laborers of contemporary art. By rejecting tradition in favor of the radical, she’s reimagining its very definition, and recreating one where the role of women is cast in high relief. Her name is Neysa Page-Lieberman, the sparkling, ambitious co-founder and co-creator of Monuments to Movements. With obsessive curiosity, she’s honoring the communal accomplishments so central to our shared identity. And forcing an evolution that is full of endless possibilities.

SINGLE: No More Heroes

Art always has been and always will be about community. Whether it’s preserving a moment or confronting accepted norms and asking hard questions about them, art is central to our humanity. For as long as she can remember, Neysa has searched for the pieces of the story that aren’t always part of the final edit. Her work as an art historian is no exception, always striving to give a voice to the people who deserved one.

The tumult of 2020 brought – among so many other things – a widespread toppling of historical monuments. As sculpted heads rolled, many began to question what hero should be honored in its stead. Neysa began to notice that traditional approaches to monuments fixated on a single individual. Not the countless others who also participated in the movement. And that’s when the lightbulb went off.

“Why aren’t we doing monuments that way?” Neysa asked, naturally crediting her co-creator Jane Sachs as someone who questioned the same. “Why is this dependence that we credit one person who is going to be our hero forever?” So began their mission to challenge society’s treatment of monuments. By focusing on what communities have built, they’re changing the narrative from individual accomplishment to collective success. And giving due recognition to all of the heroes who played a role.

DOUBLE: Heart of the Work

Just like inclusivity, feminisms are something that can be understood or defined in different ways. It’s one of the things that makes it such a powerful word…and also why it is always used in the plural. “There’s so many different stories about feminisms around the world. So many ways to practice them,” Neysa shared.

Many continue to understand it as equality of the sexes, which is where the term originated. But it has since evolved to encompass a much broader definition. Modern feminisms are the foundational lenses to view and think about any historically oppressed populations. It’s also about looking for ways to make us all equals. “You realize that one tool alone can lift us all, she said. “Can liberate us all.”

TRIPLE: Inclusivity is Missing

No event, significant or otherwise, ever took place from the effort of one single person. But traditional monuments preserve just one moment and person for history to remember. It misses a broader appreciation of the movement itself and the change it created. But most importantly, the multitudes of people who played very important roles.

It’s why Neysa’s work at Monuments to Movements aims to replace single heroes cast in literal stone with something more pragmatic. “One of the things that was so compelling for us when we started to frame this … was the inclusivity of it all.” she told me. With an appreciation for the past and an eye toward the future, she is facilitating a timeless artistic framework. Better still, it can evolve with as much fluidity as the movements themselves.

HOME RUN: A New History

“We’ve had a lot of support along the way,” Neysa said of her entrepreneurial journey. Kansas City’s Kemper Family Foundation gave the first local grant, which.  a tremendous win for the program as well as its mission. But more recently, they became the recipient of a significant grant from The MacArthur Foundation.

It enables them to be even more impactful than before as they continue using art to promote a more inclusive version of our shared history. “Were so grateful to them for believing in me and feeling inspired by our mission,” she told me. And, she later added, “It really empowers us to be as ambitious as we want to be.”

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Monday and Thursday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Learn More About Inclusivity from Joel

Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.

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Full Transcript:

Joel Goldberg 0:19
Hey everyone, welcome into another episode of Rounding the Bases presented by Community America Credit Union: Believe in Unbelievable. My name is Joel Goldberg And when this episode releases we will be in September. So happy September. I say that because we’re getting a little closer to fall. For me in terms of baseball can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, the grind is coming close to an end. And this podcast will always keep on going. Either way. Although we’ll take a little bit of break at the end of our season right now. It’s been going all year long. That’ll come soon, then we’ll start up a new one but still have plenty of episodes left including this one a quick shout out to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City: Making Connections That Matter. I’m so excited to have the partnership with them. They’re incredible. They’re all about people, whether you’re looking for a job looking to be placed looking to hire someone, not just in Kansas City, but all over the country just just love to recommend that you check them out at the minimum. They’re a great resource. They’re always willing to help chiefofstaff@kc.com We’ve got a really interesting episode today with just a an incredible story to me, and one that is really relevant to the times that we’re in right now. Our guest is curating a new school of thought in the house of feminist practices. She’s a champion of equality who demands a voice for the invisible labors of contemporary art. By rejecting tradition in favor of the radical she’s reimagining its very definition and recreating one where the role of women is cast in high relief. Her name is Neysa Page-Lieberman, the sparkling, ambitious co0founder and co-creator of Monuments to Movements. With obsessive curiosity, she’s honoring the communal accomplishments so central to our shared identity, and forcing an evolution that is full of endless possibilities. Which means that we have a lot to discuss. And I don’t think we’ve ever had an intro like that before because this is really, I think, a unique topic. I’m bringing Neysa Page-Lieberman to the podcast right now. And Neysa, thanks for joining.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 2:32
Hey, I’ve never had an intro like that either. That was beautiful. I just would love to borrow that. Credit Ashleigh, credit the show. That was beautiful. Thank you.

Joel Goldberg 2:42
So, I’m at a point now where I’m just telling everybody my assistant Ashleigh, the incredible Ashleigh Sterr writes all my intros. It certainly it saves me a lot of time in the chaos of everything that I do. And she saves me a lot of time with everything that she does. But she’s an incredible writer and researcher and and so, you know, after a while, I would start to read these intros. And everybody would say, Can I have that? Can I wait, that was so beautifully written? I can write but that was not me. So let’s give Ashleigh the the credit. I should also give credit, and I always forget to look these up. And my mind is all over the place, as you know, but I believe it was Ebony Reed that introduced us is that correct?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 3:18
Yes, it was the amazing Ebony Reed.

Joel Goldberg 3:22
Previous guests on the show. She is incredible. By the way, if anybody, if you’re listening, and you just go back and search under Rounding the Bases for Ebony Reed, it was a really fantastic episode, a very heartfelt episode and a heavy one as well. But but much more. So I would encourage that but just a little, in baseball terms, hat tip to Ebony for making the connection. I’m always looking for great connections and great guests. And I was excited too when we met because you’ve got you’re here in Kansas City. But you’ve got Chicago background in history, which is, which is where I grew up for a lot of my years and still have family there. So with all of that said, Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But maybe let’s let’s just start with Monuments to Movements and what it is, which I know is somewhat of a loaded question because there’s a lot here.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 4:09
Yes. And so, in the intro, you mentioned my that I was a co-founder. So I want to also credit my co founder Jane Sachs in Chicago. She’s a longtime collaborator, longtime friend of mine. And so Monuments to Movements is something that she and I have been talking about for at least two years. You know, it was really prompted by the discussions around racial equity and gender equity and LGBTQ equity that that all rose up in 2020 when we were reassessing our values and reassessing, you know, how equally we value and show dignity to each others stories. And so, around that time, as I’m sure everybody remembers, there were a lot of monuments being toppled, a lot of literal heads rolling down into rivers. And so you know, at that time I was getting asked very frequently to do interviews or write something and address the moment specifically around monuments and public art. And so a lot of the questions were, you know, should this Columbus monument be toppled? And if so, what should go up in its place? You know, who’s our new hero? And, you know, I just kept thinking, is this the right question we should be asking, you know? Like, where are the gaps in these conversations? Why are we so quick to topple and replace, topple and replace, without potentially having kind of the harder discussions of you know, who were we then when that statue went up? Who are we now? Who will we be in the future? So, you know, Jane, and I would be on the phone talking about this. And she had reached out to me about, you know, someone wanted us to, you know, come talk about it. And we both are thinking gosh, everybody’s asking the same questions. What do we, how do we answer this? And we both were thinking, Okay, we’re looking at the work we’ve done before, you know, the work we have been doing, which is, which is public art at the intersection of social justice, you know, kind of like telling those stories that have not been given the same kind of visibility as other stories, that the stories that kind of dominate our history. So, you know, how do we do that? How have we done that? Well, we’ve always worked with communities, we’ve always worked with the communities in that place, where we want to create a new work of art, you know, to make sure that we’re giving voice to the right people, to make sure that we’re valuing everyone equally. And we were thinking, why aren’t we doing our monuments that way? You know, why aren’t we thinking about the stories we share, the work we do together? And why do we, what is this dependence on our expectation that we credit one person, you know, and we, when we, when we put that person in stone and say that person is going to be a hero forever, we will always want to look at that person in this space. And so we thought, okay, maybe instead, we’re thinking about the stuff we do together, the movements we’ve built together that have built our communities that have improved our lives, and that, which we all benefit from. And so we were thinking, Okay, our monuments need to be to movements, period, No More Heroes. We’re talking about commemorating collective action. And then from there, you know, we just thought, oh, we’ll build some projects, or we’ll write something and then all of a sudden, you know, there’s like this huge organization. And, and, you know, from there, we I guess I should back up just a little bit, especially because Ashleigh highlighted this so much in her intro, and you have brought this up as well, but it is so much at the heart of our work is that we are committed to feminist practices in this work. And I want to just quickly kind of explain what that means. Because, you know, a lot of people have different definitions or understandings of feminism. And that’s great. That’s why we always make it plural, we say feminist practices, or feminism’s, because there’s so many different stories around feminism around the world. And there’s so many ways to practice it, you know. A lot of people might understand it as equality of gender, equality of the sexes. And yes, you know, that is where it came from looking at a group that was historically oppressed, and fighting for equity. But then when you use that kind of as a foundation for all people, you realize that that one tool alone, can lift us all. Can, can liberate us all, and start thinking about all of the different groups, the backgrounds, the races, the gender identities, and thinking about how we can all be equal. And, you know, sometimes that comes down to intentional inclusivity. You know, when you’re in a conversation, and you say, wait a minute, you know who’s not here? Or who’s dominating the conversation? How can we create a level playing field, sometimes that’s thinking about the ethics of care, which I can only assume like plays a large role in your work, Joel, when you’re thinking about, you know, equity and culture in an organization, you’re thinking about ethics and how we care for each other. And I guess another tool that I really like in the feminist toolbox is empowering people to tell their own stories, especially when maybe your story has been a detail to somebody else’s story. You know, how do you create authorship for your own experience? And I’ve just went on for so long,

Joel Goldberg 9:29
In the best of ways. No, it’s, well, it’s all good. And it’s interesting, too, because I think that when people hear the term feminism, I don’t know what it amounts to depends on the person right? Like to me, I think about my mom who has always been an incredible activist. I’m incredibly involved with the League of Women Voters in Chicago. And so that’s always what I saw from her, you know, I mean, she was and is a woman that was told and she’s been a brief guest on this podcast, I had her on for Mother’s Day. But she, you know, she was like a lot of women in the coming up in the, you know, 50s and 60s, was told that when she went to college, she could get a degree and either be a nurse or a teacher. And that’s what she did, she went and she was a music teacher until she decided to go back to school and go to junior college and, and carve a new path as a computer programmer, essentially what we now call coding and eventually worked her way up into management and corporate management and leadership roles and things that she could have never dreamed of. Maybe she didn’t dream of them, but she wasn’t, she was told she couldn’t do those types of things. So you’re not, I’m sharing that just because that that was sort of always my experience of what I thought feminism was. But when I hear you describe it, what I hear is, it’s really something potentially different for everyone, and not necessarily just about women. I’m highlighting that because there’s some people that are gonna say, well, this isn’t about me. But really what I’m hearing is it’s about everyone, it’s about the underserved, it’s about the underrepresented. Does that is that a pretty good way to say it?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 11:12
Absolutely. I mean, I would hope that all the men in my family would identify themselves as feminists. Right? And it’s not, I mean, I have never thought it was something just for, for women. It is definitely for the empowerment of women. But it is so much more broadly about equality, dignity, value and rights for everybody. And so I have found more people using that term to talk about that kind of broader equality and equity. And I love it, you know, because, you know, there’s always been this misunderstanding that, that it’s like a flip of the patriarchy, right, that that people will say, well, now you’re saying women are going to be better than men or whatever. And I’m like, Well, that might take 1000 years. So the patriarchy has been around for way too long for us to unravel that. But it’s just, it’s really kind of like tools and strategies that have been used in this movement that can be applied to anything. It’s, you know, feminism has been called the longest revolution, because it has been around since there have been women-identifying people on the planet, right? Everybody is always going to be fighting for equity, when they see realize that they’re oppressed, and then find that there’s tools they can use. And so you know, again, kind of like this feminist toolbox has been used in so many other movements very successfully, as soon as you kind of figure out, you know, how to enact these strategies in your work.

Joel Goldberg 12:55
So I mean, this is, everything you’re describing also describes what you guys are doing in terms of, of these projects. It’s so when, when you and I met, it’s been a while now virtually, after Ebony’s introduction, I was intrigued because I hadn’t heard a story like this before. And then as you explained it, to me, it was almost for me, it was this revelation. I was like, wait a minute, why weren’t we doing that before? Not, not, by the way that that some of the great heroes of this country shouldn’t be recognized. And I don’t think that’s what you’re saying. But I think we’ve all become so trapped. And unfortunately, everything has become so political, that we’ve all become trapped in this. Pick a side. I don’t know how you pick a side that would honor say someone that was pro slavery or something like that. But that’s where we’re at in this world. That’s a whole different discussion that could go into social media, and, you know, the the immediacy of everything that we have and the carelessness that comes with that. I mean, we’ve opened up a great Pandora’s box. But what has been lost in the shuffle of they should tear this monument down. They shouldn’t tear this monument down. This is historical. And I mean, everything we could go on and on with this is. I hadn’t really heard anybody saying, wait a minute, let’s honor a movement. Let’s honor the progress that was made with whatever it is. And that was fascinating to me that there are movements since the beginning of time, and there will continue to be so that have changed the course of history of this country and the world. Isn’t that what’s been missed?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 14:37
Yes, yes. I love how you describe that as well. You know, one of the things that I think was so compelling for us when we started to frame this as movements was the inclusivity of it, right? Because, you know, what really significant thing has happened in history. That was just one part. So right, like just one person in one moment. You know, there’s, there’s so few things I think we could think about in history where, where, you know, you can literally credit one person, but that has been our practice, you know, in monuments, in history, and so much of our storytelling, it’s, um, you know, sometimes it’s just easier for us to kind of credit one person for one thing, and kind of beyond what you were saying, you know, like, picking the side beyond the idea of Do we agree with that person or not? Is that the full history, you know, what is missing? And so one of the things, you know, movements have leaders, you know, I mean, you could think of any movement you can think of, you can see people that rose or became the the public image for that movement. But in fact, you know, movements are multitudes of people, different generations, and backgrounds. And movements, oftentimes kind of take on a life of their own as they should, because things change, our context keeps changing. And so leaders might ebb and flow throughout the movement, and the goals might change, right? So for instance, you know, we work with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and their goals have changed over time, because they have been able to go from state to state and actually affect policy. And so you know, where you and I are from in Chicago, they did it, you know, policy check, right. And so, then they think about what worked there, what didn’t work there, you know, if we want to go to Missouri and think about how we can create equitable working conditions for our domestic workers there, what do we do, you know, it’s a different state, there’s different needs, you know, thinking about those things, and so, so the communities are different, the communities that inform those discussions are different, there will be different leaders here than there are there. And this movement has already been going on for hundreds of years and will continue going on. So it’s just really thinking about these things evolve. And so we need to be careful not to carve them in stone right now of what happens on this date, because it will change.

Joel Goldberg 17:13
So I’m curious just about your background and your story, because I think, you know, looking over your past your resume, it’s pretty diverse in terms of what you’ve done. And I’m sure, you know, coming up through undergrad, through grad school and all that you couldn’t have envisioned landing here. I mean, if so, that might have been not a maybe it was I don’t know. But this, to me, at least as I’m observing, it’s something that has evolved over time. And something that that kind of came to the both of you as, as you created this, but you also, I mean, you just, you have such a unique background, I saw that you, you started as a theater major, and then you’ve got art history. I mean, you were you were a lecturer at the Art Institute, the incredible Art Institute of Chicago. And so I’m wondering kind of how all of that turned into this.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 18:05
Oh, wow. Okay. So, um, you know, I, I think, yes, I did start as a theater major, and I married a theater professional. And so there is that. So I do have a deep appreciation for performance and experience in public speaking because of that. So thank you theater. So I kind of switched from theater to visual arts in college. And part of that was because like you I had a feminist mama. And she was there to teach me, you know, basically, to ask, what are they not teaching you? What are you missing? And so I started looking very early in my education, for the gaps and the omissions and my art history classes. And then I was seeing those same things in galleries and museums, and of course, the same things in the books and the same things in the conversations. And so from there, you know, she, she’s taught me to ask these hard questions that sometimes made my professors very uncomfortable, when I would just say, Where’s the women? Or, you know, where’s the people of African descent? Where’s the queer artists? Like, why are we you know, this is like, is this the full history? And I, you know, as I would if I was in front of a class, and somebody asked me that, I would probably get very defensive, and then I would go home that night and think, Hmm, what if I left out? And to the credit of so many of my professors, that’s what they did, you know, and they said, hey, you know, nice to ask this question. And, you know, I went home and I was like, there’s all these artists that I know about that didn’t teach you about because it wasn’t in the book. And so we’re going to talk about that now. And so that’s kind of how I approached my my education and and found incredible mentors where I went to undergrad at Florida State University, and graduate school at Indiana University, they both they they just had these incredible art history programs that represented all, a lot of these omissions that I was looking for in my education. And so, you know, from there, I just, I, you know, I was learning the least about Africa. So I decided I’m going to major in African art. And then I realized even there, there weren’t any women I was learning about. So then I started thinking about, you know, women of African descent who were making art around the world. And so that kind of carried through my career. And so even when I was, you know, working in galleries, or lecturing at the Art Institute, or doing public art was like, kind of those ideas of you know, what’s missing just really fueled my work.

Joel Goldberg 20:40
It’s, it’s incredibly fascinating to me, because everything you’re saying right now matches up to what was in the intro from what Ashleigh wrote about you being, you having obsessive curiosity, which I think is an incredible gift and a skill to have for all of us. I mean, you know, when I go to the ballpark every day, I’m better the more curious that I am. Not so much. Why’d you win the game, lose the game, but just digging a little bit, because the more you dig in, the more curious you are, the more you’re able to tell those stories, right? I mean, it’s all about storytelling. So what does curiosity mean to you?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 21:21
Wow, I love that question. So I would say sometimes, I just have to admit that my curiosity is fueled by frustration, or even anger sometimes of like, I know something’s missing, why aren’t they taught? Why are they keeping this from me. And then I have to go out and kind of learn everything I can about it. So that is part of it. Sometimes it is, like, I have to make a difference here, I have to learn about this. So I can teach my students or teach my kids like, I have to change the cycle. But a lot of times, it is inspired just by magic. You know, like, I’ll see an extraordinary artist installation or performance, and want to know everything about it and say wow, like, you know, when I moved here to Kansas City, I didn’t know anything about the Wyandotte history. But I was seeing artists that were telling these stories in their work. And then I just had to learn everything I could about it. And so, you know, sometimes it’s my curiosity comes from finding those things, I don’t know. And sometimes it’s because, again, I’m so inspired, and I it makes me so happy to to learn these things. And then, you know, it fuels these great conversations with artists or other creatives and collaborators to say, you know, your work taught me this, this and this. And now I want to, you know, discuss this with you. So I am, you know, I guess curiosity, like all of us kind of, you know, inspires and kind of directs your learning trajectory. So, yeah, I guess that’s my, my typical long winded answer.

Joel Goldberg 23:01
No, I love it. It’s great. And it’s something that we can all learn from. Before I get to my baseball theme questions, I know that you got a couple of big things going on right now. One is coming up pretty soon, in terms of event that you’re having, and the other than is just a big moment. For Monuments to Movements in terms of I think recognition, and certainly finances as well, let’s start with that. Because I know that as you and I are recording, it hasn’t quite happened yet. But by the time this airs, it will happen. So tell me about a nice little boost that you guys have coming here.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 23:34
Yes, thank you for asking. So we just got the very exciting news that we’re getting a major grant from the MacArthur Foundation. And so this is so exciting to us. You know, we have had, we’ve had a lot of support along the way from from donors and, and other foundations here in Kansas City. The Kemper Family Foundation’s gave gave us our first local grant, which is amazing. The MacArthur one is, is significant. Because as you said, it really kind of empowers us to be as ambitious as we want to be, as we go after these, you know, these very large scale projects and can approach new collaborators and and fund everything appropriately. And so yeah, we’re really excited about about that, and so grateful to them for believing in us and, and feeling inspired by our mission. And as you mentioned, we have some events coming up too. So we run a virtual conversation series through zoom that anybody can attend called Speakeasy. And we invite collaborators from all around the world to talk about initiatives that we’re doing together, as well as maybe something that they’re working on that really has inspired our work. And so, so our first one is actually in October, and that is, you know, that one is going to be on the reproductive rights and health justice movement. And a lot of artists right now are responding to these issues. And, and the, you know, potential legislation and very bold and exciting ways and they’re drawing from, you know, 100 years of history of this as well. So we have some really incredible artists who are coming on the show, who I can’t announce, now you’re gonna have to check our website.

Joel Goldberg 25:25
Check it out.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 25:26
They’re so cool. It’s, I’m really excited about that one, and I want everybody to come.

Joel Goldberg 25:31
Okay, so here’s what we can give it at this point, the website monumentstomovements.org. It’ll be in the show notes, monumentstomovements.org. And the date of that event is October 13. Thank you, October 13. Yeah, I’ve got it in front of me. So at noon, and so we can at least give everybody that then they can get their updates through the website as we go forward on that. And it’ll be of course, more news. And it sounds like some great announcements coming. But congrats on, on on the grant from the MacArthur Foundation, a lot of good stuff coming. Okay, my baseball theme questions as we wrap things up, what is the biggest homerun, whether it’s through your career, or whether it’s really still this very the early stages, I would say, of monuments to movements about a homerun for you?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 26:18
So a homerun for me, I think was opening one of the biggest projects of my life at that time, which was a project with the Guerrilla Girls, with traveling, an internationally traveling exhibition, while I was a new mom to tiny twins. And so I, I think, you know, when I look back at that period of my life where I was, you know, no one was sleeping, we were all hanging on by a thread. And I was opening the show that I knew was, you know, not just going to open in Chicago, but then traveled around for, it ended up traveling for seven years around the country. Opening that show, which again, was like, you know, the biggest thing in my life at that time, while keeping two tiny babies alive, made me feel like a superhero. And so when I look back at that, I think, okay, if I, if I did that I can do anything.

Joel Goldberg 27:14
That’s that’s, that’s as cool of a homerun as I’ve heard, right. And I look, I can only imagine as the father of two kids, not the mother, but the Father and not twins, that Well, none of us that have twins can imagine what that is like. So.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 27:33
You have an idea with two kids even.

Joel Goldberg 27:36
You have an idea that they’re minor, at least separated by two and a half years. So Okay. Second question is, is the swinging a miss? Did you have a swing and a miss? And what did you learn from it?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 27:47
You know, I had like a two well, maybe a year, year and a half period of constant swings and misses when I was very frustrated, and not frustrated, but just restless, in my last job before I moved here to Kansas City. And I was just like a professional interviewer. And I was just like, going from job to job to job, and every single interviewing for jobs. And then you know, everyone would kind of fall through. Either like I would pull out of the running because it wasn’t the right fit, or I wouldn’t get offered it or they canceled the search, you know, and it was just like going on and on. And it just kept missing over and over. And then kind of realizing when we moved here, and I had time to breathe and reassess my life and thinking, Oh, I was just going to find another job, I was equally restless than, you know, I had been in academia for so long. And what I think my brain was telling me was you need to do something completely different. And, and understanding those things, probably those jobs didn’t happen for a reason. And being very thankful they didn’t, you know, like if I was in a job like that, which would have been very similar to what I was doing, but in a different institution. You know, this would have, Monuments to Movements never would have happened. And this is like the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

Joel Goldberg 29:06
That’s pretty cool. I don’t know when you can recognize that in the moment that when you know that you’re in a moment right now. You’re not I mean, versus after the fact which is so much of what we’re talking about is recognizing something that’ll live forever. And essentially that’s what what you guys are doing to but to know that in the moment that you’re experiencing something groundbreaking, something personal, something meaningful, is really really truly a gift. Last baseball theme questions small ball, what are the little things that add up to the big results for you?

Neysa Page-Lieberman 29:36
So in my work, which is again, you know, so community engaged and every project is with different people. The process is everything you learn, you learn everything you’re going to know from the process, not from the final work of art when it’s done, you know, when you unveil you’ve learned so much along the way. And, you know, so for instance, I I’m going to give you this one example that I will never forget, because it’s something that you don’t foresee coming. But it changes everything. I was working on a monument project in Philadelphia to, to honor a formerly enslaved woman. And we were having all these community meetings. And one night, a group of children were there, their parents had brought them because it was in the evening, you know, and the kids are there. And we’re talking about what this monument should look like. And the kids are kind of, you know, talking a little and also being kids and getting distracted. And then there was an argument in the room, should this be a figurative statute or not? And all of a sudden, one of the kids, she puts up her hands, and she said, this should not look like this woman. And everybody thought, okay, you know, she’s on that side, fine. And she said, you know why? Because no one ever took a picture of her. We don’t know what she looked like. So why should we pretend? And that changed the whole thing. That changed everything, You know, a child who, you know, just, you know, we didn’t even think they were paying attention, as my mom will say, little pictures have big ears, and she was taking everything in. And she had a very specific, strong opinion. And she changed the course of the whole project. And so those things are like, you know, you just, you know, we were stunned. You know, I was like I, I was, I felt grateful to be in that space at that moment. And it’s just, it’s kind of, you know, has stayed with me.

Joel Goldberg 31:31
That’s, that’s huge. But in a, in a small way. That’s a homerun too, right. I mean, in, you know, in baseball terms, sometimes I say, sometimes you just do the little things, and they turn into homeruns. And, and I think there’s so many lessons with that, too. I think listening that, you know, paying attention in the way in the innocent way that a kid can, that sometimes we forget to do that. And then and then giving people voices too. That’s, that’s incredible. So I’m so excited for what you all are doing and want to encourage everyone to just check this out. It’s different. It’s unique. I think it’s groundbreaking. The website is monumentstomovements.org. monumentsto movements.org. I’m not done with you yet. We’ll we’ll head over to YouTube for for final questions, maybe a little something about kickboxing, and maybe a little bit more discussion about art. I always like to go with some of the fun lighthearted stuff over there. But as far as the audio portion of this and then if you go to YouTube, and it’ll be in the show notes as well, but you could search for Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg, Neysa Page-Lieberman, NEYSA that’s in the show notes, as well. But as far as the audio portion goes, this has been incredible. I really appreciate you spending time today, Neysa.

Neysa Page-Lieberman 46:54
Thank you so much, Joel. This has been so fun. Thank you for having me on.