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Detail from Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding, 2018

One of Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding billboards at Elmwood Avenue and Mohawk Street in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Locations: Throughout Erie County

Emotional Wayfinding is an expansive and responsive project by the New York–based artist Stephen Powers. With subject matter gathered from conversations with Western New Yorkers, the project took the form of several billboards, as well as metal signs in the shape of average “No Parking” or “One Way” street signs, which were placed in a variety of locations throughout Erie County.

Detail from Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding, 2018

Two of Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding billboards at Elmwood Avenue and Mohawk Street in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Detail from Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding, 2018

Two of Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding billboards at Elmwood Avenue and Mohawk Street in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

One of Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding billboards at 490 Bailey Avenue in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

One of Stephen Powers’s Emotional Wayfinding billboards at 3879 Broadway in Cheektowaga. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Over the summer of 2018, the museum distributed a tear-away postcard in various locations throughout the region, prompting Western New Yorkers to share their thoughts on what they like and dislike about Buffalo. The artist gathered these responses and used them to develop signage that was displayed throughout Erie County and the City of Buffalo. 

About the Artist

Stephen Powers was born and raised in Philadelphia where he began graffiti writing in 1984 under the name ESPO (alternatively cited as "Exterior Surface Painting Outreach," or as an auditory acronym for Steve POwers). By 2000, Powers gave up graffiti to become a full-time studio artist. His work has been shown at the prestigious Venice and Liverpool Biennials, as well as numerous shows at New York City's Deitch Gallery. In 2005 he organized The Dreamland Artists Club, a project in which professional artists helped Coney Island merchants by repainting their signs. In 2007, Powers organized his first solo museum exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The show, which included many sign and guidepost artworks, attracted attention in New York and Philadelphia. In December of that year, ESPO appeared on the cover of the art magazine Juxtapoz. “In 10 years time,” they wrote, “Stephen 'ESPO' Powers's name will reside next to Crumb, Robert Williams, Basquiat, McGee, and Warhol as those who truly changed the way art is defined and displayed.” Visit the Artist's Website

Project Sponsors

Emotional Wayfinding, 2018, is supported by LAMAR Outdoor Advertising. Additional support has been provided by the sponsors of the Summer of AK.

Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative was established and is supported by leadership funding from the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.

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