The Junior League of Buffalo (JLB) hosed a ceremony to dedicate a gift of public sculpture to the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State by artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant on Tuesday, September 21. Entitled Do Not Mistake Our Softness for Weakness, the work now stands as a tribute to the strength and power of women and girls on the plaza outside of the Center.
Speakers at the ceremony included Rebecca Gandour, president, JLB; Scott Propeack, Burchfield Penney interim director; Shelley Drake, Burchfield Penney board president; Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, president, SUNY Buffalo State; Rachel Stenclik, JLB member; and artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant.
Founded in 1919, the JLB announced plans for the permanent installation in 2019. Following an inclusive RFP process administered by a diverse, 12-member selection committee with wide-ranging backgrounds, O’Leary Soudant was awarded the project. The work is comprised of six bold, vibrantly colored sculptural elements ranging in height from 5 feet – 12 feet. Each form symbolizes a transformational stop on the lifelong journey of womanhood that collectively embrace one another. “The six revolving elements represent a faceted avatar, evoking the different stations of feminine power, progression, and metamorphosis,” describes O’Leary Soudant. “Do Not Mistake Our Softness for Weakness is my ode to our eternal becoming.”
"For the last 100 years, The Junior League of Buffalo has been committed to developing strong, empowered,women civic leaders, who over the decades have acted as catalysts for change in our great community,” said Rebecca Gandour, JLB President. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity for JLB to partner on a piece that speaks to all women, encapsulating our diversity, beautifully celebrating our past while provoking thought about our future."
“A long-time friend and collaborator of the Burchfield Penney, we’re honored to have Shasti’s powerful work as a permanent installation on our grounds and we welcome the newest addition to our esteemed collection,” said Scott Propeack, Burchfield Penney interim director. “This striking visual interpretation will
prominently greet all to our campus community, celebrating the central role of women in society. We thank The Junior League of Buffalo for marking its 100th-year milestone with an imaginative complement to our landscape remembering the past while influencing future generations.”
Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, president of SUNY Buffalo State stated, "In 2019, I had the pleasure of meeting Shasti and hearing about her vision for this powerful installation. It is with great excitement that we will reveal this wonderful sculpture to the Buffalo State College and Western New York community this week. We thank The Junior League of Buffalo and our many community partners for helping make this important symbol of strength a reality."
The sculpture was made possible by both private donations from individual members of The Junior League of Buffalo and the community through a fund independently established by The Junior League of Buffalo. The organization acknowledges the generous support of The Baird Foundation, Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, Buffalo State College, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Cynthia Vance and Scott Smith Charitable Fund, Davis Family Foundation, Delaware North Corporation, Gerald and Sandra Lippes Foundation, James H. Cummings Foundation, Josephine Goodyear Foundation, Joy Family Foundation, KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation, M&T Bank, The John R. Oishei Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Rigidized Metals and The Vogt Family Foundation.
The work was 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.
ABOUT SHASIT O’LEARY SOUDANT
Shasti O’Leary Soudant is a transdisciplinary artist, designer, and writer. In her art practice, she uses a wide range of media and material to create immersive experience that concern perspective, hidden forces, randomness, iterative systems, and transformation to initiate meaningful engagements with the public. O’Leary Soudant has exhibited internationally and is in private and public collections across the country.
ABOUT THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF BUFFALO
The Junior League of Buffalo, Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.