Published July 22, 2020

UB Artist’s Latest Project Aims To Get People Listening

Listening Project image.

UB professor and transdisciplinary artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant’s high-concept, large-scale exhibits are known for getting people talking. Her latest project, bound for two lakeside locations in Erie, Pennsylvania, is bound to get people listening, as well.

Listening Dishes

O’Leary Soudant, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Art, College of Arts and Sciences, is one of seven artists selected by Erie Arts & Culture to be partnered with less-established Erie-area artisans to create works for the Creating with Community Artist Residency Program. The project was designed to empower local artists from underrepresented backgrounds, and to create opportunities for them to engage in more ambitious projects.

EAC paired O’Leary Soudant with Esther Ortiz, an Erie-based pinata maker. Ortiz’s work is sculptural in nature and she has “a tremendous grasp on proportion and color theory,” said Patrick Fisher, executive director of EAC. “Shasti's work is playful in nature, as is Esther’s, so it felt like the two would be a great pairing.”

O’Leary and Ortiz’s concept is to create two pairs of sculptural “whisper dishes,” like those first used in Europe during World War I. Whisper dishes are large, parabolic, acoustic listening devices that collect sound at a focal point and project it to another dish some distance away. The artists’ sculptures will allow people to speak in normal tones into one dish and be heard by someone at another dish more than 50 feet away.