Art reference

WAHI Studio in Newfane focuses on art accessibility and mental health awareness

NEWFANE, NY (WKBW) – Tucked away on Main Street in Newfane is a fresh take on the traditional art studio.

“We are the gymnasium of creativity,” says Jess Tomaino, founder of studio Wild At Heart Illustration, or WAHI.

WAHI Studio, a nonprofit arts education center, opened at the start of the pandemic when Tomaino took a leap of faith after working in the corporate world.

Studio WAHI

Jess Tomaino is the founder of WAHI Studio in Newfane

“There must be more for me. There’s no way I can sit at a desk and count the police numbers,” Tomaino says. “I have all my own talents, and I see it in other people who really want to push other people into theirs.”

WAHI Studio offers after-school programs, couples classes, chalk camp, and one-to-one classes with the goal of stimulating creativity and raising mental health awareness.

“You can try mediums, you can access an art journal, you can access our reference library, you can throw paint, hit paint,” Tomaino explains. “There are a lot of expressive art forms here because we focus on mental health first.”

WAHI Studio Punch Paint

Studio WAHI

Student enjoys “punch painting” at WAHI studio in Newfane

Tomaino says she tries to make art more accessible and calls creativity vital for problem solving. “These kids need an outlet. A lot of times they’re super stressed when they arrive. I’m seeing it more and more.”

Those interested in becoming a member, taking a course, or supporting the studio as a sponsor can learn more about WAHI Studio here.