Six bright, energetic figures with bubbly colors, ranging in height from 5 to 12 feet, created by artist Shasti O'Leary Soudant now prominently stand on the plaza outside the Burchfield Penney Art Center as a tribute to the strength and power of women and girls thanks to a generous gift from the Junior League of Buffalo (JLB). Entitled Do Not Mistake Our Softness for Weakness, the public sculpture was dedicated during a ceremony hosted by the JLB to mark its 100th anniversary on Tuesday, September 21.
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. Each form symbolizes a transformational stop on the lifelong journey of womanhood that collectively embrace one another.
"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 longtime friend and collaborator of the Burchfield Penney, we’re honored to have Shasti’s powerful work as a permanent installation on our grounds and welcome the newest addition to our esteemed collection,” said Scott Propeack, Burchfield Penney interim director. “This striking visual interpretation welcomes all to our campus community, celebrating the central role of women in society. We thank the Junior League of Buffalo for an imaginative complement to our landscape, remembering the past while influencing future generations. I also acknowledge Burchfield Penney board member Rachel Stenclik for her instrumental role in bringing this to life at the center."
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. 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 JLB and the community through a fund independently established by the organization. The JLB acknowledges the generous support of the Baird Foundation, the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, SUNY Buffalo State, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Cynthia Vance and Scott Smith Charitable Fund, the Davis Family Foundation, Delaware North Corporation, the Gerald and Sandra Lippes Foundation, the James H. Cummings Foundation, the Josephine Goodyear Foundation, the Joy Family Foundation, KeyBank in partnership with the 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.
Renata Toney, Community Engagement and Public Relations Strategist | (716) 878-3907 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Kathy Shiroki/Michaela Worosz