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BPAC expecting vivacious new sculpture.

A dramatic new art installation is coming to the Burchfield Penney Art Center (BPAC) at SUNY Buffalo State. The Junior League of Buffalo (JLB) has announced that artist Shasti O’Leary-Soudant has been picked via RFP process to create a permanent sculpture, which will grace the plaza of the art complex. This is great news, because BPAC has plenty of space to install public art of this nature, which was always that plan since building its new home. In fact, a stroll through the college grounds is a real eye opener when it comes to viewing treasured works of public art and architectural remnants. Add to that the sculptures found on the grounds of the Albright-Knox, and there is great potential to create a woven tapestry of artistic delights in this district.

This particular work, titled Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness, is a commemoration of the centennial of BPAC, courtesy JLB. The sculpture signifies “The strength and power of women and girls in our region and beyond.”

“For the last 100 years, the Junior League of Buffalo has been committed to developing strong, empowered, women civic leaders, whom over the decades have acted as catalysts for change in our great community. I am thrilled to have the opportunity for JLB to partner with Shasti on a piece that speaks to all women, encapsulating our diversity, beautifully celebrating our past while provoking thought about our future,” said Cindi McEachon, JLB President.

Comprised of six vibrantly colored sculptures ranging in height from 5 feet – 12 feet, each form symbolizes a transformational stop on the lifelong journey of womanhood. 

“The six revolving elements represent a faceted avatar, evoking the different stations of feminine power, progression, and metamorphosis: From youth to old age, naivety to wisdom, timidity to courage, obedience to defiance, stoicism to exuberance,” describes O’Leary-Soudant. “Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness speaks to the necessity to rise and claim womanhood for ourselves, in whatever way we see fit. The sculpture is my ode to our eternal becoming.”

“Adding a major public sculpture that is both by and about women is a wonderful and important addition to Buffalo’s urban landscape,” said Burchfield Penney executive director, Dennis Kois. “Great cities have great public art, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have received this gift from the Junior League of Buffalo in celebration of their important work and legacy of giving. Shasti’s work will be a colorful, energetic and welcoming presence on the SUNY Buffalo State campus.”

The work will be fabricated in Buffalo by Rigidized Metals, which collaborated with the UB School of Architecture and Planning to create the Burchfield Penney’s three 24-foot stainless steel projection towers in the Front Yard gallery.

When asked about the sculpture, Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner said, “We are thrilled to feature the work of such an innovative and thought-provoking artist on the Burchfield Penney plaza. Shasti O’Leary-Soudant’s sculpture is a testament to the strength found throughout womanhood, including that of a young woman coming into her own. This is fitting for a college with a rich history of fostering excellence in women, along with men, during their academic and emotional journey through early adulthood. We are so grateful to the Junior League of Buffalo for enabling the Burchfield Penney to bring this evocative sculpture to our campus and for the surrounding community to enjoy.”
The sculpture was made possible by both private donations from individual Junior League of Buffalo
members and the community through a fund independently established by the Junior League of Buffalo. The organization acknowledges the generous support of the M&T Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation, The Baird Foundation, James H. Cummings Foundation, Davis Family Foundation, KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation, Delaware North Corporation, Josephine Goodyear Foundation, and the Cynthia Vance and Scott Smith Charitable Fund.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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