Are we listening? Or still not listening?

Leo E. Osborne | March 26, 2020 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Here we are… all 8 billion of us… together.

Mother Earth has told each of her children to go to their room and sit and think about what we have done to hurt her!

In the mid 1960s I graduated from the New England School of Art in Boston and soon after going to WOODSTOCK, dropped out and began a life as a hippie. I then moved to Maine, deep into woods where I felt closer to the earth, my chapel in the pines. I was a painter.

In the mid 70s I found my passion for wood carving and began carving wooden birds. I also did a few whales, with faces of humans on them, as guardians of the Earth. That began my interest in using art to express nature and the delicate balance we have with the divine world and how we were not treating the earth and the living beings on it with love, compassion and kindness.

1986 brought on the horrific Valdez Oil Spill and with that I created STILL NOT LISTENING. It was seen by a Japanese Master Carver who requested it to go to Japan for two years of museum exhibitions and then it came to Boston to the Museum of Science for a public viewing period. After a few exhibitions it sat in my studio for several years. Then, the Gulf Oil Spill occurred, and I called my longtime friend, curator David J. Wagner. I told him that I thought it was time to bring this sculpture once more into the world to view, for we were Still Not Listening! So, Dave called Bob Bateman and Kent Ullberg who both had created art pieces that were depicting environmental issues of the Valdez Oil Spill and other disasters of the planet. These issues being perpetuated by the greed of man and not understanding the precarious position that we were all in. Within weeks, David had created ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, which toured the United States for many museum exhibitions.

At that point, I had already carved a killdeer in maple burl wood that was doing the feigning of a broken wing, which they will do to draw an intruder away from their ground nest with eggs in it. I then got the idea of putting a black carbon footprint on the ground to illustrate what humans were doing to interfere with the life cycles of so many birds and other critters. This piece was included with my work for ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT and at that time, prior to the opening of the first exhibition, I created another piece that was near and dear to my heart, something about bees. I made a mobius circle of infinity and placed on its surface the design of a honeycomb with a bee attached to it. It is titled MO-BEE-US.

Most of the work that I create in paintings and sculpture reflect the beauty of this natural world and our relationship to that world. However, at times my concern for this life force moves me to create art that has an Environmental Impact, such as my turtle sculpture THE GREAT ESCAPE. This piece shows a sea turtle with the shadow of a fishing or shrimp net on the shell of the turtle. This turtle is gratefully ‘escaping the net” and hence THE GREAT ESCAPE.

It is now recognized that we are into a global climate change! This warming of the planet is causing much devastation. I need not go into detail of that which is happening, for it is most obvious when we look at icebergs melting, islands going underwater and many wild creatures becoming extinct! 

We must all become good stewards of this earth. I feel that as an artist it is important that we show the world through our art, a vision of what we are doing and how we must stop this crazy suicidal march into oblivion. I feel honored to think that in my varied work as an artist I have often been classified as a “visionary wildlife artist”. 

Now, during this time and with the worldwide infectious Corona Virus, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT II is touring the United States and Canada. Maybe it is also time to really consider the words of John Lennon in his song, IMAGINE…”Imagine all the people, living life in peace!” Let’s make this song our planetary anthem!!!!

With all of my art, I create a poem for each work and here I shall include and conclude with the poems for each of the works mentioned in this writing.


Swept into bondage
By the silent, creeping, hideous net
Its’ weave to take my soul
Its’ desire to feed its’ greed

Caught up tight
In the corporate grip
I learned to see through
Their ruthless lies
And sweeping my mind clear
I escaped under the shadows
Of impending death


A Mobius strip
An unending story to tell
Forever with bees
May all of us dwell

Resisting man’s foolishness
Our request for life,
Mo’ bees for us please




A whale of a vision
I saw in my mind
A great diving behemoth
In moonlight did shine

For a moment it stood
With flukes to the sky
As an angel of night
A moon face on its flank
I knew as I watched
This was no cosmic prank


Feigning my wing broken
To lure intruders away

They come, greedily,
Stumbling foolishly,

Or unseen, unknown
But there, a dark presence
Leaving their careless footprint
On our Earth


Mating dance
Spring ritual
Plundered by
Technologies intrusion

Dance of the dead ensued
Echoing 20 years
Our cries are still not heard

Listen to me
Your canary
In the coal mine

Listen to me
It’s time to
Let your light shine

Leo E. Osborne currently lives in Washington, where he continues to explore the natural beauty that surrounds him through sculpture, painting, and poetry. Recipient of numerous honors and among America’s foremost sculptors, Leo constantly redefines his work, experimenting with material and form.

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