In the Spring of 2021, the Arts Collaboratory kicked off our latest Working Artists Lab in collaboration with Bortolami’s Artist/City initiative. Led by Cecily Brown, one of the most renowned painters of our time, the Lab brought together a group of exceptionally talented Buffalo artists and student artists from the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. Together, this diverse band of painters and storytellers created a new mural to adorn the Academy’s walls—one that will bring joy to the city of Buffalo and inspire students for years to come.
In Spring and Summer 2022, the Arts Collaboratory’s Working Artists Lab participants conducted creative research and engaged in hands-on art-making alongside Buffalo-born-and-raised multidisciplinary artist Asad Raza. Asad had been commissioned by the Front International 2022: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art to create a multipart artwork that involved outdoor sculpture, sailing and song. The Lab brought together the expertise of astronomers, indigenous scholars, architects, maritime organizations, marine biologists, musicians, poets and artists. The work of the Lab culminated with Orientation, a sculpture made of Lake Erie mussel shells, sand, silt and rubble, and Delegation, a sailing journey across Lake Erie during which a group of artists composed a piece of music later performed on opening night of the Front Triennial.
From February – October 2021, the Arts Collaboratory operated an arts incubator, The Space Between. Equal parts studio, performance space, reading room and gallery, we used the Space to challenge expectations, pressure test new ideas, and show work in progress.
Under the ecological stewardship of Josh Smith, Marlene McCarty’s permanent earthwork at Silo City, Into the Weeds (A Deliverance Garden), continues to flourish. The vast majority of the project’s original plant species have returned for the past two years—and multiple new species have self-organized and voluntarily made the earthwork their home. As a community of intelligent and powerful plants, Into the Weeds (A Deliverance Garden) empowers us with knowledge and protection while serving as a monument to deep histories and future potentials.
In March 2021, the Arts Collaboratory presented first year MFA Nicole Chochrek’s remarkable exhibition at 500 Seneca, where Nicole was the Arts Collaboratory Artist in Residence. The works included in Little, Cute & Lasts Forever featured thousands of tiny, colorful, seemingly innocuous pieces of plastic meant to remind us of the ubiquitous material’s unsettling longevity.
Our Fall 2021 Working Artists Lab with Grandmaster Flash culminated with a series of student performances inspired by the teachings of hip-hop’s pioneers and innovators. Over Thanksgiving week, 2021, the UB Arts Collaboratory released Why Does the Sound Come Out of the Box, a remarkable film that follows the Working Artists Lab students during their three months of discovery. Featuring interviews with guest lecturers and student performances, it’s a celebration of hip-hop’s influence on our cultural landscape.
A collaborative filmmaking experiment, Live Your Art documents the experience of living and working in Buffalo as an artist. Bringing together four diverse UB artists, the short film is a celebration of creativity across the disciplines. The production team, led by UB filmmaker Mani Mehrvarz—and featuring UB artists Naila Ansari, Julia Anne Cordani, Pam Glick, and Maryam Muliaee--takes cameras into spaces where art is made, and then leads viewers out into the city on a search for sources of inspiration, collaboration and community.