I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way–things I had no words for.
- Georgia O’Keeffe
Pen and ink drawing by Jeremy Pratt
Across the street from the giant church dubbed Babeville there is a little place called the Starlight Studio. The studio opened in August 2005 and since day one has been a home to adult artists with disabilities. Created by the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of West New York, Starlight provides an open-art studio environment with individualized guidance, goal setting, technical assistance, demonstrations, and critiques for the cultivation of artistic expression. I had been hearing about Starlight since arriving in Buffalo and on a recent day off I wondered into the studio for, of all things, a leather work demo being given by artist and Starlight participant Ricky Hogan.
Artist Ricky Hogan gives a demo to fellow artists Mary Hunt, Sonya Lewis, Lisa Kobis, Donald Brown and volunteer Patricia Cosgrove.
The first thing I noticed was the vibrancy and energy of the studio. There were artists working on drawings, sculptures and other mediums. There was a group of artists gathered around the table where Ricky was meticulously demonstrating the process of moistening the leather and imprinting various lines and shapes into the surface. One lesson he reiterated again and again was the need to take one’s time learning how to use the tools properly. That seemed to me to be a great metaphor for the work done at Starlight Studio where artists are the given time and encouragement to learn and grow.
Collage by Marie Malinowski
Within the day program model, artists at Starlight work alongside professional artists. They have the opportunity to create or work with a variety of materials and techniques. Painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramic sculpture, fiber arts and multi-media work is available to all. The studio, located at 340 Delaware Avenue, is open Monday through Friday from 9-4 pm, and also houses an exhibition space and gift shop filled with work created by participating artists, fulfilling the mission that the artists not only acquire and develop new skills but also that they make financial gains as a result of their art making.
Wood assemblage by Josh Gordon
In addition to the exhibits of Starlight participants’ work, two other local agencies, Aspire of WNY and People, Inc. have exhibited art work in the gallery. In the summer of 2006, Starlight created outdoor woven sculptures with visiting artist, Jozef Bajus, which remained on display on a downtown thoroughfare throughout the summer. Starlight has also had several off-site exhibits in its short history: Art Dialogue Gallery, Betty’s Restaurant, Café 59 and Globe Market. In a moment serendipity, the Mobile East team just happened to be in Buffalo during Starlight’s current exhibit which is inspired by something near and dear to StoryCorps; the spoken word.
Ceramic sculpture by Rosita Scott