ELAB Creative Conversation 2015; Friday October 23, 2015

Emerging Leaders in the Arts in Buffalo (ELAB) is partnering with BAS to present Creative Conversation 2015. This year’s theme is Art Accessibility: a discussion and exploration of physical, economical, and social access to art, art making, and exhibiting. Work in this exhibit is meant to question how art is made accessible or inaccessible to the greater public, including art makers. The evening will include a panel discussion regarding arts access moderated by artist, journalist, and educator Bruce Adams. The discussion will begin at 6:30 and includes the following panelists:

  • Julia Douglas is an emerging portrait artists working primarily in oils and acrylic. Her work focuses on people of color and she views her portraits as an opportunity to reverse the stigma and stereotypes imposed by pop-culture.
  • Irvin Finks is a poet, songwriter, and co-founder of the Living Poet Society (LiPS). He also works with a variety of community out-reach programs including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Gloria J Parks Community Center and Crossroad Springs for Africa.
  • Shasti O’Leary Soudant is a transdisciplinary artist, designer and writer from New York City. In her art practice, she uses a wide range of media and material to create objects and immersive experiences that talk about hidden forces, ambiguity, perspective, sexuality, transformation and the ways in which we edit the self in reaction to culture, politics and emotion.
  • Shirley Tokash Verrico is the Curator at Buffalo Arts Studio and has planned and coordinated literary, performing and visual arts events and exhibitions throughout Erie, Niagara and Genesee Counties. Her approach to curating and arts management, regardless of the institution, reflects her firm belief that contemporary art can and must be accessible and meaningful to diverse audiences.
  • Gary Wolfe is an artist and educator whose work focuses on marginalized communities and under-represented experiences. His painting series “Out of Darkness” grew out of his long history of working with those on the margins of society as a social and public health worker for Erie County.

As part of Creative Conversation 2015, BAS and ELAB members have invited under-represented artists and organizations to exhibit their work in the BAS Community Space through November 6, 2015.  Exhibition partners include the following:

ASPIRE iXpress is an expressive arts program for people with developmental disabilities. It includes all forms of artistic expression from painting, clay sculpting and writing to acting, singing, playing musical instruments and photography.  Participants are led through an artistic process designed to fuel personal inspiration, improve communication skills and develop a stronger sense of self. iXpress reinforces that participants are first and foremost artists, who happen to be challenged with a disability. For more information, please visit

Autism Services, Inc. provides a wide array of individualized programs and services to support children and adults with autism, and their families. As a result, they have amazing stories to tell! A small band of artists – all on the Autism Spectrum – have been exhibiting their work at venues throughout Western New York, showing spectators what society and its citizens look like through their eyes. For more information, visit

BAS Jump Start Mentorship Program helps Buffalo youth prepare for their journey to college by immersing the students into the local world of arts. The program is meant to empower these future artists for the competitive collegiate environment to come. The Jump Start Mentorship Program provides the essential building blocks to those who will ultimately become full-fledged artists on their own. For more information, visit

People Inc. The Arts Experience is a fine arts day habilitation program offering an array of classes from music, drama, visual art and dance to creative writing and dance aerobics. Qualified artists and educators lead the classes and students do not need prior arts experience to participate. The program focuses is on self-expression, creativity, relaxation, and free movement in order to promote a healthy lifestyle in both body and mind. For more information, visit

The evening culminates with a performance celebrating all of the exhibiting artists and the installation Anima Mundi by ELAB artist Marissa Lehner with dancer Nancy Hughes at 7:30 pm.

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