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Before and After Again

Friday, March 8, 2024Monday, September 30, 2024

Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

M&T Bank Gallery
Seymour H. Knox Building 

Before and After Again is an exhibition of artwork, prose, and poetry by the Buffalo-based artists and cultural producers Julia Bottoms, Tiffany Gaines, and Jillian Hanesworth. Their works respond to the tragic slaying of ten Buffalo residents on May 14, 2022, at the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York.  

These works were created out of dialogue with members of our community, including those families directly affected by the tragedy, in consideration of their deep humanity and resilience in the face of systemic racism and unspeakable violence. 
 

An oil painting of an elderly black woman holding a baby wrapped in a red blanket close in an embrace
Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988). Someone To Dream Of The Future, 2023. Oil on canvas. 64 3/4 x 48 3/8 inches (164.5 x 122.9 cm). Photo: Amanda Smith for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.

The exhibition explicitly addresses lives lost. It honors the extraordinary good that each of these individuals brought to their community and gives weight to the breadth of love that each extended well beyond their immediate families. In addition, the exhibition confronts pervasive issues that linger in our community, addressing the chronic and systemic problem of racism in our region and our nation and reflecting on the harm that such systems do in communities of color. 

The title of the exhibition bluntly recognizes that we measure trauma, in part, through demarcations of time: before and after. The terms, realities, and emotions through which we understand our lived experiences before tragedies strike necessarily shift in their wake. The title further asserts that the tragedy that befell our community—wrought again by racist motivations and through gun violence—is a virulently episodic and epidemic American experience.

This exhibition is not a memorial, though some will visit to remember. This exhibition does not make demands, though some will be called to action. This exhibition is not meant to retraumatize, though some will sting in their ongoing pain.  


This exhibition is meant to be a space of dialogue, where we can gather to share the vastness of our experiences, to unequivocally announce our shared humanity, and to ensure that our loved ones are not forgotten. It has been assembled so that we may find ourselves united, speaking with fierce clarity to disrupt the caustic systems that threaten our trust, faith, and love for one another.  
 

Installation views of three oil paintings in light wooden frames on a blue wall, the left being a still life of strawberries in a blue bowl, the middle a portrait of an older woman with dark skin tone embracing a young toddler with medium to dark skin tone wearing a green hoodie, and the right being a still life of two bananas with a newspaper clipping behind them
Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

 

Mourning Until Morning By Jillian Hanesworth - In the morning when we rise, give us freedom  Give us a rhythm to dance to and a light bright enough to eliminate the hurt  Give us a new reason and a why  A new sky without a cloud in sight  In the morning, give us healing  Turn the sadness into acceptance and acceptance to ammunition    Take the fire from around us and place it within us   Give us the boldness to burn it all down to protect our own  In the morning when we rise, dry our weeping eyes  Let each tear water plants of purpose   Allow hope for tomorrow to sprout from our dampened land   A land stained with the blood of our ancestors   Let us become their legacy finishing the work they began   And beginning new works with their vision in mind  In the morning let us rise  Let our legs sore from marching  Our knees bruised from praying  Our minds weary from worrying  All find a peace beyond our own understanding  And even while in the thick of it   Give us the encouragement needed to remember that tomorrow is on its way  Give us the wisdom to know when to rise  But until that time  We’ll be mourning until morning

Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Installation view of the exhibition Before and After Again. Photo: Brenda Bieger for the Buffalo AKG Art Museum

  • A close up of an oil painting of an older black man and woman in a close embrace, with their foreheads touching and the woman's hand resting on the man's chest

    AKGo! Audio Experience

    In the Before and After Again audio journey, listen to the artists and cultural producers Julia Bottoms, Tiffany Gaines, and Jillian Hanesworth as they respond directly to the tragic slaying of ten Buffalo residents on May 14, 2022. 

  • An oil painting of a blue bowl of strawberries and a red ribbon below it

    Exhibition Guide

    View the Before and After Again digital exhibition guide. 

About the Creatives

A woman sitting with her knees up and elbows resting on them, cupping her face while looking at the camera

Julia Bottoms

The Buffalo-based artist Julia Bottoms has been painting portraiture of Black subjects ever since the devastating murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Bottoms has already crafted extraordinarily moving works in our community through her participation in the production of the Freedom Wall. This exhibition is a continuation and expansion of how the artist works in and with her community. The goal is not merely to represent, though making humanity visible is still fundamental. With the opportunity to produce an exhibition, the artist can expand her scope of representation past portraiture and embrace deep and thoughtful storytelling that demonstrates what it means to be alive, to create family and community, to leave a legacy.

By working with journalists, poets, community leaders, and activists, the artist will produce the most nuanced work of her career, calling direct attention to the scope of the tragedy that our community suffered to ensure that we do not allow complacency, fear, or normalization of violence to render us inert in the face of an epidemic of violence and racism. The work and exhibition will result in a space for dialogue, remembrance, and healing.  

Photo: Amanda Smith

 

A closeup black and white photo of a black woman with glasses looking at the camera with a stoic expression

Jillian Hanesworth

Jillian Hanesworth worked close by on the day of those tragic events and since has become an advocate of and resource for the many affected families to share and find voice. Her poem “Water” was installed as part of an in-store memorial to the victims after the location reopened to the public. That poem begins with the invocation to “Let the hopeful healing waters flow,” calling on all of us in the community to recognize that “even our small marks / on this huge world are necessary.”

Hanesworth’s remarkable talent is grounded in her ability to listen, to validate, and to transform the immense emotional scale of our tragedy into words. In her role as a leader in the community, she has been asked to be a liaison for her fellow artists in this exhibition, to introduce them to the families in order to create space for her creative partners—and, as a result, for our whole community—to listen deeply. In her capacity as a poet, she has been asked to continue her journey as a trusted source, as an empathetic and authoritative voice to create original poetry for the exhibition.

Photo: Adeyemi Adegbesan

 

A black and white photo of a young black woman facing to the right with her eyes on the camera, with a stoic expression

Tiffany Gaines 

Tiffany Gaines is a writer, curator, and multimedia creator interested in highlighting the diverse arts and artists of her community through curatorial work, content creation, and writing. As an artist and creative, her growing practice unpacks the intersections of narrative, history, and possibility as she explores her own identity as a Black woman in America. She says, “The work that I do allows me to amplify the voices of artists of color who have been historically excluded from the fine arts, whose work resonates with my experience of the world on a personal level, as well as explore my own lived experiences through my art practice.”

Gaines earned her undergraduate degree in journalism and has been asked to create prose to complement Hanesworth’s poetry and Bottoms’s paintings for this exhibition. Her goal is to persistently center the voices of her community, reflecting an unwavering and tenacious sense of pride, love, and perseverance. She has written, “There is an intricate poetry to Blackness, to say the least. Blackness is not a monolith, but rather a dynamic flow of intertwined stories that connect us back to our past through shared values. These values transcend moments of survival and struggle, resilience, and righteousness to live at the core of our understanding and purpose.” Her work in this exhibition is an extension of her artistic and professional mission that aspires to “encourage people from all walks of life to engage in art on multiple levels.” It is her firm belief “that art can be an impactful way to weave communities together; it is only through the shared emotion, reflection, and contemplation experienced through art that real change becomes possible.”

Photo: Adeyemi Adegbesan

 

Dedication

This exhibition is dedicated to the victims of May 14, 2022, their families, and our still-suffering community. We are grateful for the support offered from the families that have suffered loss and from community members who survive with them in heartache.  

Sponsors

Before and After Again is presented by Tops Friendly Markets and M&T Bank. 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; Nicole and Steve Swift; and an anonymous donor. 


Tops Friendly Markets in red font with the square logo next to it

   M&T Bank (in green font)

  

 

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Support from an anonymous donor is made in Honor of the East Side Garden Walk.