The Centennial Gift

The Junior League of Buffalo (JLB) announces that artist, Shasti O’Leary-Soudant, has been selected to create a sculpture commemorating its centennial to be permanently installed on the plaza outside of the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State. O’Leary-Soudant’s work, entitled Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness, will stand as a tribute to the strength and power of women and girls in our region and beyond. The work is a gift of the JLB to the Burchfield Penney for all to enjoy.

Artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant was awarded the project following an inclusive RFP process administered by a diverse, 12-member selection committee with wide-ranging backgrounds.

“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.”

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 For Greater Buffalo, The Baird Foundation, James H. Cummings Foundation, Davis Family Foundation, KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation, Delaware North Corporation, Josephine Goodyear Foundation, Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, The Vogt Family Foundation and the Cynthia Vance and Scott Smith Charitable Fund.

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.”

“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 is being 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 Shasti 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.