716 Transformers: The Arts Director

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

Alma Carillo is Executive Director of Buffalo Arts Studio, 20,000 square feet of art gallery, affordable studios for 30 local artists who are in residence (there is a waiting list), and rooms for ongoing arts education classes for various constituencies. Located in a former windshield wiper factory, BAS is renowned for their festive opening receptions and fundraisers. Carillo moved to the Queen City in 2013 and joined BAS one year later. “One of the guiding lights for me and my work is that anyone in the community can come here and see themselves in the space, in any number of ways. People need to feel welcome, and the work shown here needs to reflect the community. A big part of my job is networking and building bridges in the community to connect the art world to the general public.” During her tenure, BAS has become more ADA-compliant, gallery aesthetics have been improved, and more bridges have been built. “We are very intentional about our social justice lens in terms of the exhibition programming that we offer,” she says. “Voices that often go unheard have space and a place to express themselves freely here. These are different voices in a conversation. If you look at the list of artists who have had exhibits here, or who have had – or have – studios here, there are hundreds of names: there are one or two degrees of separation from BAS in the Buffalo art world.”

716 Tips

“Go to Juneteenth, it’s one of my favorite annual events in the city. There is such good energy there and you’ll see so many of the schools represented, and so many community members there. It’s such a celebration.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.