Client: Albright-Knox Public Art Initiative / NFTA
Location: Buffalo, NY, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $50,000
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
Rigidized Metals Corporation
Shasti O'Leary Soudant
SOS CREATIVE LLC
Evocative of DNA in appearance and color variation, GUT FLORA (powder-coated stainless steel, measuring 15.5' x 40' x 9') refers to the recent scientific determination that diverse beneficial bacteria are essential to good health, and should be cultivated and encouraged, much like a garden. If one were to consider the tunnels, concourses and stations of the City of Buffalo’s public transportation system as analogous to the circulatory and digestive systems of the human body, it is essential that these be populated by different strains of health-enhancing organisms. Systems that ensure and maintain diversity flourish.
The newly constructed Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is the first building in Buffalo to have a NFTA (Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority) metro rail station inside. The Allen Street/Medical Campus metro station is situated in one of Buffalo's most vibrant and diverse communities, and it was crucial that the public art in this space address both the mission of the medical campus as well as the diversity of the surrounding population and ridership. GUT FLORA was designed to integrate seamlessly with the architectural redesign and reconstruction of the Metro Station.
The Albright-Knox Public Art Initiative, launched in 2013, was tasked with establishing a partnership between the world-renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the County of Erie, and the City of Buffalo in order to enrich public shared space in both the urban and suburban landscapes. I was selected with two other artists by Aaron Ott, the Albright's Public Art Curator, to submit initial proposals to a selection committee which included NFTA leadership, and then revise and resubmit our proposals in response to concerns and criticism. My revised proposal for GUT FLORA was selected by the committee, and the fabrication process begun at Rigidized Metals Corp, where I am the inaugural artist-in-residence. The Albright-Knox contracted with Clark Rigging to install the piece over a four-night period while the station was closed to the public.
The organic patterned material used to create GUT FLORA is laser-cut stainless steel put through the patented Rigidizing® process to strengthen the metal, and powder-coated in 31 separate colors.