As I reach my last stop at the intersection of Main Street, the new University at Buffalo Medical School towers over me. Here, the winding, vividly-colored “Gut Flora” sculpture by local artist Shasti O’Leary-Soudant greets commuters at the Allen Street Metrorail stop. On my return walk back, I stop to feast on those Gabriel’s Gate wings. Mission accomplished.
The installation by Shasti O’Leary Soudant for the Allen/Medical Campus Station of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority consists of six stainless-steel sculptures. These colorful structures, named Gut Flora, stand at 11-feet-tall and draw inspiration from bacteria. Constructed from individually powder-coated steel sections, they create helical forms that extend through the floor and ceiling, giving the illusion of penetrating both surfaces. The title Gut Flora is a reference to the recent scientific discovery that beneficial bacteria play a vital role in maintaining good health and should be fostered and supported. When considering the tunnels, concourses, and stations of Buffalo’s public transportation system as equivalent to the circulatory and digestive systems of the human body, it becomes natural to populate them with forms reminiscent of biological flora and fauna.