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Believe in Buffalo: WAHI Studio in Newfane focuses on making art accessible, mental health awareness

WAHI Studio in Newfane
Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 18:27:58-05

NEWFANE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Tucked away on Main Street in Newfane is a new take on the traditional art studio.

"We are the gym for creativity," says Jess Tomaino, who is the founder of Wild At Heart Illustration studio, or WAHI.

WAHI Studio, a nonprofit art education center, opened its doors early in the pandemic when Tomaino took a leap of faith after working in the corporate world.

WAHI Studio
Jess Tomaino is the founder of WAHI Studio in Newfane

"There has to be more for me. There is no way I can sit at a desk and count policy numbers," says Tomaino. "I have all of my own talents, and seeing it in other people really wanting to push other people into theirs".

WAHI Studio offers after school programs, couples classes, chalk camp, and one-on-one instruction in an effort to spur creativity and raise awareness of mental health.

"You get to try out mediums, you get to art journal, you get to go to our reference library, you get to throw paint, punch paint," says Tomaino. "It's a lot of expressive art forms in here because we are really focused on mental health first."

WAHI Studio Punch Painting
Student enjoys "punch painting" at WAHI Studio in Newfane

Tomaino says she is trying to make art more accessible and calls creativity vital for problem solving. "These kids need an outlet. A lot of time they are super stressed out when the come in. I see that more and more."

Those interested in becoming a member, taking a class, or supporting the studio as a sponsor, can see more on WAHI Studio here.

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