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Leah Schneider’s ‘Conniving to Survive’


The fate of Rachel is a topic on the lips of many in Fort Myers. The 97-year-old Grecian maiden was severely damaged when Hurricane Ian’s winds toppled the immense bougainvillea and wrought iron fence that previously stood behind her. In Conniving to Survive, Leah Schneider puts into pictures the emotions being experienced by many of those who’ve come to love and identify with The Spirit of Fort Myers.

“Our family was cleaning up just like yours after the storm,” Leah relates. “We were tired and emotional, some days full of tears, seeing images and hearing stories of those who fared worse.”

About a week after the storm, Leah’s daughter brought home a canvas that she found leaning against a stop sign.

“It was my Ian canvas. My first drive downtown, I had to pull over and jump out of the car to capture her depiction. Seeing Rachael hunched and broken, while at first shocking, brought a sedate smile to my face. This is the first time I started to feel a rally for our City, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and for her. Rachael was shrewd, protecting herself so she would survive …. She did! …. We did!”

In July, City Council approved an expenditure of nearly $50,000 for conservation of this sculpture which, in all likelihood, will be removed to an indoor location where the work can be safely performed.

The City’s Miami-based conservation team, Rosa Lowinger & Associates, has expressed confidence that the sculpture can be completely restored. Of course, like the rest of Ian’s survivors, she will bear the scars of her injuries forever after.

You can view Conniving to Survive at the Alliance for the Arts now through September 30. It’s part of the AFTA’s Storm Stories exhibition.

September 3, 2023.



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