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Julia Bottoms in her studio. (Photo: Amanda Smith for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum)
Julia Bottoms in her studio. (Photo: Amanda Smith for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum)

Buffalo AKG to present special exhibition of local artist response to mass shooting of May 14, 2022


Thu, Jan 11th 2024 08:15 pm

Featuring new works by artists Julia Bottoms, Tiffany Gaines & Jillian Hanesworth, ‘Before and After Again’ will be free of admission charges

Press Release

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum has announced a landmark exhibition that will respond to the tragic slaying of 10 members of Buffalo’s Black community on May 14, 2022.

“Before and After Again” will feature new paintings, poetry and prose by artists Julia Bottoms, Tiffany Gaines and Jillian Hanesworth (the inaugural City of Buffalo poet laureate recently nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on the “Choose Love” video with the Buffalo Bills). The exhibition will be on view free of admission charges in the Buffalo AKG’s M&T Bank Gallery from March 8 to Sept. 30.

Since the May 14 racist mass shooting at the Tops Friendly Markets in the city’s east side, which brought national attention to the active forces of racism and segregation that continue to plague Western New York, Bottoms, Gaines and Hanesworth have engaged in intimate, profound dialogue with members of Buffalo’s Black community, including the families directly affected by the tragedy, to consider the humanity and resilience of this community in the face of systemic racism. The resulting artworks that will comprise the exhibition include portraiture, symbolically charged still life painting, a series of 14 new poems, and written testaments to communal healing.

Julia Bottoms' studio while at work on the paintings for “Before and After Again.” (Photo: Amanda Smith for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum)


“I believe this project can hold room for a community in mourning, while simultaneously searching for joy in the memory of those lost,” Bottoms said. “My work relies heavily on a fusion between realism, symbolism, and a sense of the intangible spirit of the subject. I believe a major component of the project’s success is that which will occur in the space between the canvas and the audience: remembrance, reflection, mourning and celebration.”

Hanesworth said, “Helping the community heal while addressing the very real systemic issues our community lives with is the most important responsibility an artist can face. I am very proud to work alongside Tiffany and Julia on this project, and my hope is that it will offer a moment of reflection and validation in order to help the community continue to heal as we move forward together.”

Gaines said, “There is nothing that could ever reconcile the immense tragedy and loss faced by our community, but art is powerful in that it offers space for reflection, healing and contemplation. I am honored to work with Julia and Jillian on an exhibition that I hope will honor the necessity of processing our collective grief, and will also activate the arts as a means of addressing real, systemic issues to envision a brighter, more equitable way forward.”

“Before and After Again” is an embodiment of the Buffalo AKG’s mission to serve as a creative and welcoming space shaped by and for its community. With its newly renovated and expanded campus, the museum has the space and resources to realize that mission and act as a platform for these three Black women artists and the vital stories and ideas they express.

The M&T Bank Gallery and the Seymour H. Knox Building are free of admission charges year-round, meaning the exhibition will be accessible to all throughout its five-month duration, including the second anniversary of the shooting.

Aaron Ott, the Buffalo AKG’s curator of public art and curator of “Before and After Again,” said, “I see this exhibition not as a memorial, but a living expression of resistance, resilience, humanity, and a love that prevails over all other forces. Led by powerful local Black voices, the exhibition stands to elevate growing, critical, and crucial dialogue in our city about equity and our shared cultural responsibility to elevate and respect the lives of our Black citizens, neighbors, friends and families.”

“Before and After Again” is presented by Tops Friendly Markets. The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and an anonymous donor.

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