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Lit City: “Spirit of Inspiration”

Spirit of Inspiration Sculpture - Lucille Clifton - Olalekan Jeyifous - Just Buffalo Literary Center

The “Spirit of Inspiration” sculpture, designed by internationally acclaimed artist Olalekan Jeyifous, is inspired by the life and legacy of poet Lucille Clifton.

It is a lasting tribute to all readers, writers, and creators who enrich our lives and communities.

The sculpture was dedicated as a gift to the City of Buffalo’s public art collection on Thursday, June 22, 2023. It is the fifth and final piece in the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation’s “Spirit of Buffalo” series.

This project is sponsored by generous support from:

  • Just Buffalo Literary Center
  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • New York State Council on the Arts
  • The City of Buffalo
  • Erie County
  • Lit City
  • BOA Editions Ltd.
  • Buffalo Renaissance Foundation
  • The Spirit of Buffalo
  • Baird Foundation
  • The Vogt Family Foundation
  • Schneider Family of Services
  • Corinne Rice & in memory of Victor Rice
  • First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank
Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) remains one of the most important poets of the 20th century. Born in Depew, New York, Clifton grew up on Purdy Street on Buffalo’s East Side and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School (now City Honors). After studying at Howard University and SUNY Fredonia, Lucille returned to Buffalo where she married Fred Clifton, a professor of philosophy at the University of Buffalo. They had six children born in Buffalo. In her lifetime, Clifton published 14 collections of poetry and a memoir edited by Toni Morrison, as well as 18 books for children. Her numerous awards include three Pulitzer Prize nominations, an Emmy Award, a Coretta Scott King Award, and the National Book Award. Clifton was the first Black woman ever to receive the distinguished Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.

Olalekan Jeyifous - Just Buffalo Literary Center

Olalekan Jeyifous

Born in Nigeria, Olalekan Jeyifous is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work re-imagines social spaces that examine the relationships between architecture, community, and the environment. He has spent over a decade creating large-scale installations for a variety of public spaces and was recently co-commissioned to create a monument dedicated to the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm as part of the City of New York’s “She Built NYC” initiative. His work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Vitra Design Museum and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. He was also recently awarded the prestigious Laboratory of The Future Silver Lion by the Venice Biennale.