The Future of Health in the City

Scanned images of three cards, each with a watercolor painting of a figure on them and lots of text. Much of the text is illegible, but the first image is identified as Dr. Henry Taylor, the second is Beth Machnica, and the third is Clifford Johnson aka Peaches.


October 8, 2019–Fall 2020



Artist List

Charmaine Wheatley


The growing downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) has become a major focal point for the city’s current development. Despite this resource, members of our community continue to confront significant medical and wellness challenges. Fortunately, many individuals from different initiatives and organizations are working together to address these challenges – homelessness, race-related treatment disparities, diagnosis-related stigma, poor access to care, and more – to improve the health of the city.

In a series of intimate, conversational portraits, artist Charmaine Wheatley documents the varied experiences and perspectives of those in the trenches of this effort.

“Western New York is one of the unhealthiest regions in the United States, but thankfully there are many wonderful groups committed to changing what our region’s health looks like and how people access health,” said Beth Machnica, Healthy Communities Catalyst, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. “Charmaine’s work highlights the unique stories of the individuals and champions who are both affected by and leading this work. Charmaine’s efforts in capturing these stories provide a snapshot of how collaboration within a community can cultivate health.”

Over the course of three months in Fall 2018, Wheatley met with individuals from different initiatives and organizations operating in and around the Medical Campus. The collective portrait of the communities presented brings into visual conversation individuals working in the BNMC’s Innovation Labs, UB medical students, and facilitators, residents of Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods, individuals experiencing homelessness, and members of the Restoration Society, Inc. team who are dedicated to providing them with vital support services.

“These portraits are about hope; they show a dreamscape of social change,” said Dr. Henry-Louis Taylor, Jr. Director, Center for Urban Studies, University of Buffalo. “They are about the possibility of building a future city where wellbeing and wholeness reign.”

This project has been an expansion of Wheatley’s artist residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In this project, as well as in her work in Rochester, Wheatley’s talent for recording conversational fragments helps bring visibility to the important work being done to envision a new future for the city. Her work highlights the value of the arts as a vehicle for sharing personal experiences and building compassionate connections across communities.



The Future of Health in the City is presented by the UB Art Galleries in partnership with the University of Rochester Medical Center and in collaboration with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Innovation Center, the UB Center for Medical Humanities and Restoration Society, Inc.

Generous support of Charmaine Wheatley’s residency has been provided by the University of Rochester Medical Center, the Guelcher Fund for Arts and Health Care, the UB Arts Collaboratory Health Initiative, the Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the UB Department of Art.

We would like to thank all of the portrait participants for sharing their stories with patience and enthusiasm; Pastor Dennis Lee and the congregation at Hopewell Baptist Church, Mike Broadus, Adam Selon and all of the staff at Restoration Society, Inc. as well as Sean Heidinger at the BNMC Innovation Center for generously opening their spaces for portrait sittings; and Christine McCullough for her critical support designing the exhibition layout.

We are grateful to our Conventus partners for their ongoing assistance and generous support to make Connect Gallery a continuing presence in the Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine.