Published September 27, 2019
“The Future of Health in the City,” a new exhibition presented by the UB Art Galleries that highlights individuals working together to bring better health and healing to the Buffalo community, will open on Oct. 8 in the Connect Gallery at the Conventus building with a public reception from 5-7 p.m.
The UB Art Galleries is presenting the exhibition of portraits by artist Charmaine Wheatley 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.
It will be on view in Conventus for a year. Conventus is located at 1001 Main St., across High Street from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) has become a major focal point for Buffalo’s current development. Despite this resource, members of the community continue to confront significant medical and wellness challenges. But individuals from different initiatives and organizations are working together to address these challenges, among them 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, 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 for the BNMC and one of Wheatley’s subjects. “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 last fall, 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 team who are dedicated to providing them with vital support services.
“These portraits are about hope; they show a dreamscape of social change,” said Henry Louis Taylor Jr. director of the Center for Urban Studies in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning and another of Wheatley’s subjects. “They are about the possibility of building a future city where well-being and wholeness reign.”
The Conventus exhibition is 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.
Support for 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 building, the BNMC and the UB Department of Art.