Before and After Again:  Before and After Again

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.

Featured Voices:
•   Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art
•   Julia Bottoms, visual artist
•   Tiffany Gaines, curator, writer and photographer
•   Jillian Hanesworth, Poet Laureate Emeritus, City of Buffalo
•   Naila Ansari, Assistant Professor in Theater and Africana Studies at SUNY Buffalo State College

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

Growing Your Legacy, 2023

Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988)

Oil on canvas
66 3/4 x 48 1/8 inches (169.55 x 122.24 cm) 
Courtesy of the artist 

Oil painting portrait of a middle-aged man with dark skin tone, dark hair with grey, facial hair, wearing a blue suit holding a plant in soil in the palm of his hand

My Brother To Embrace, 2023

Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988)

Oil on canvas
64 x 48 1/4 inches (162.56 x 122.56 cm)
Courtesy of the artist

An oil painting of an embrace of two black men, the one more visible is older with grey hair and his eyes are closed

Mementos, 2023

Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988)

Oil on canvas
65 3/4 x 48 1/4 inches (167.01 x 122.56 cm) 
Courtesy of the artist

Oil painting of a man with a dark skin tone, dark hair and beard, wearing a white tank top, holding a small gold statue of a lion

Finding Home, Finding Healing in Love

Tiffany Gaines (American, born 1995)

We honor our ancestor Ruth and the seeds planted in her garden. May those seeds bloom into caring for ourselves and each other with the utmost intention. 

We honor our ancestor Geraldine’s laugh and the memories she shared with her family over a home-cooked meal. May we take every moment possible to create as many of those memories as we can with our families.

We honor our ancestor Heyward and his recognition that each of us has value. May we remember that we are all worthy of love and care regardless of our life’s circumstances and bring that to our interactions with our community. 

We honor our ancestor Roberta and the ray of sunshine that she was. May we be the sunshine in our own lives and light up the lives of those around us. 

We honor our ancestor Aaron’s bravery and courage to protect our community in the face of danger. May we be fearless in protecting our brothers and sisters.

We honor our ancestor Andre and his love for his family. May we remember to cherish our loved ones and never take their love for granted. 

We honor our ancestor Celestine’s resilience and her courage to live, and may we choose to live courageously every single day.

We honor our ancestor Pearl’s faith. May we carry with us a comforting belief in something bigger than ourselves. 

We honor our ancestor Margus and his contagious energy. May we bring an energy of love and healing to everyone we meet. 

We honor our ancestor Kat and her warrior spirit as an activist for her community. May we tap into our own power to demand a better life for ourselves and each other.  

May we honor the lessons of love that can be found in the lives of the ten ancestors we gained on that day, and in the generations of ancestors before them. 

Black and white photo of a woman with medium skin tone, long dark braids, facing towards the right but her face is looking at the camera

Your Love Still Surrounds Me, 2023

Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988)

Oil on canvas
65 x 50 1/2 inches (165.1 x 128.27 cm)
Courtesy of the artist

Mourning until Morning
Jilllian Hanesworth (American, born 

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 

Oil painting portrait of a man (who's details are blurred) wrapping an arm around an older woman with medium-dark skin tone, grey hair in a bun, as she stirs a wooden spoon in a pot

Peel Back The Surface Layer, 2023

Julia Bottoms (American, born 1988)

Acrylic on canvas
53 1/2 x 38 5/8 inches (135.89 x 98.11 cm)
Courtesy of the artist

Finding the Words
Jillian Hanesworth

We searched for the words in the music
We sang the same songs at the same time as if they were the gospel 
We hugged in the streets like old friends despite the new wounds 
We searched for the words in the food 
Barbeques and drive-up pantries nourishing the soul by nourishing the body
We waited for them to come in the silence
Ten moments of silence
Ten deep breaths
Ten protests commanding change in a world where reform doesn’t work
Thoughts and prayers sailing through the city like air
We searched the breeze hoping the words would be hidden there
But the thoughts didn’t ease the pain and the prayers didn’t solve the problem
The generations of problems
Of skin color becoming life sentences 
No speech from the top of the mountain protected the people in the valley 
Or the people east of Main Street still searching for a finish line to run towards
Once the cameras cut off and the commotion quiets
We’re left still searching for the words

Oil painting of a peeled orange with a postcard in the background stating "Buffalo, NY The City of Good Neighbors"

Naila Ansari

Join Naila Ansari as she guides you in a joy-through-movement exercise intended to foreground positivity and self-reflection.

Headshot of a woman with short dark hair, hazel eyes, medium-dark skin tone, wearing a black turtleneck looking towards the right

Sunday's Best

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

This is the moment to put on your best
Your three-piece suit or floor-length dress
You shine a bit brighter and greet others with a smile
With a heart warm enough to make summer stay a while
And even in the silence your imprint leaves a mark
Every day is Sunday with you 
A lifetime is one day with you

Headshot of a woman with dark braided hair pulled into an updo, glasses, medium-dark skin tone, wearing a red and green turtleneck sweater


Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

The strawberries were bitter this season
Not as sweet as I recall them to be
The once refreshing treat burning my tongue with its tartness
I’d never choose strawberries so sour to taste

These strawberries chose me
Reflecting the bitterness of the world in every bite
Making me grateful for the sweetness I remember
Hoping next season sprouts that beauty again


This Anger in Me

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

All this anger in me 
Angry about the losses and those who should still be
Angry about the lack of change 
It could happen to me 
Waiting for the breaking news and the next list of names
Media sweeping through leaving destruction like a Tsunami’s waves 
All this anger in me because nothing has changed 
A stage of my grief I hope will soon pass away 
I can’t go to sleep angry so instead I stay awake 
I cry for those no longer here
And for those who are
I pray


We Been Cold

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

We been hungry
Momma says it’s all in the mind
“If you think hungry you be hungry”
Well me? 
I been hungry 

We been cold
Momma says “this house is Swiss cheese”
The man who owns it need to plug the holes
For now we just open the stove
I been cold

We been broke
Momma said when I’m 18 I need a “J.O.B”
I know ways to make money right now
I been trying to help out
Momma don’t know 
I been broke 

We been yelling
Momma said “Black people always so loud”
We just trying to be seen
Be heard
We just want them to know that we hungry
That we cold
We been yelling 

Renew Your Heart

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

I’d trade hearts with you if I could
If only for a while
I’d pluck away generations of pain inflicted by systems you should have never been acquainted with
I’d make them all strangers to you
I’d settle your mind without making it make sense
It will never make sense 
How deeply rooted and complicated the hurt is
Our today connected to yesterday like old friends
I’d remind your heart to be thankful for the old wins
But to long for more 
Because we deserve more 
I’d make your heart fearful of comfortable misery 
Only accepting of the vision we’ve reimagined together 


Give Them Their Flowers

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

No one knows what the flower smells like from beneath the soil
The colors of the petals don’t matter there
The time and attention to the correct amount of water and the perfect amount of sunlight 
Is no longer a passing thought 
The beauty of the bloom is unknown where the roots meet the warmth of the earth

Give them their flowers while they are yet alive and they will always know the beauty they bring


Lily in the Valley

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

The fruits of the spirit sprout from here
The love, gentleness, joy and peace
Forcing their way through like roses growing from the concrete 
A lily in the valley
A blessing in disguise 
I don’t shed tears for you
I thank God for you


Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

I wish to find her for myself
But first I pray she allows herself to be seen

I don’t just wish she stays
I wish to transform into her

And then I will release her back into the world
Willing to be one
Willing to be won

Seeing Red

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

Let the color red be reminiscent of anew  
A hot handprint on a cold soul
Warmth for a cold world
Setting hostility ablaze like lighting a gas stove
Let the color red remind me of you
A crimson current with a powerful whisper 
A joy high like the tide in the Alabama river
The color red
And handprints 
And the river
Let it all remind me of you

Your Garden

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

I’ll finish your garden for you
The raised bed reminding me of altars used to prepare ancestors for rest
Rest well
I planted tomatoes and greens deep in the soil 
Now I know what it feels like to be burrowed beneath the ground too
I still think of you as I tend to the seedlings
You were caring too
And as you are carried to heaven escorted by God
Always know that I’ll finish your garden for you

Changing of the Guards

Jillian Hanesworth (American, born 1992)

The sun came out today
Winter turning into spring 
Protecting us from the grayness of that season
A new guard of my own
And when the sun goes away leaving darkness
My guard transforms from the sun to the stars
Still keeping me
Still leading me