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Writer explores beauty and pain in 'Before and After Again'

A Black woman in glasses with tied up dreadlocks and a white shirt poses for a picture in black and white.
Adeyemi Adegbesan

Tiffany Gaines, understandably, had mixed emotions when asked to be a contributor to what would become "Before and After Again," the current exhibition at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. It's dedicated to the victims of the racist attack on the Jefferson Avenue Tops.

"There's definitely a lot of responsibility and weight I feel with it but very honored my voice is one to be included in this," Gaines said. For the exhibition here prose is combined with the poetry of Jillian Hanesworth and the paintings of Julia Bottoms. It was put together by Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art at the AKG.

"I really struggled at first to think about the significance of this show and what I wanted to say through that lens," Gaines said.

"Having the ability to speak with family members and community members and bounce ideas between Jillian and Julia that really helped me to step outside of my head."

As a Curatorial and Digital Content Associate at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gaines has worked on several exhibitions, including the well-received 2022 exhibition "LEROI: Living in Color' featuring the work of the Buffalo-based artist Leroi Johnson. While working with local creators has connected her to the community, she calls herself "an outsider" after living here for 11 years.

"I think there's a beauty in how as Black people our history is rooted in taking some of the darkest, most painful parts of history and turning them into something beautiful," Gaines shared.

"Not minimizing or shying away from that hardship but being able to cultivate an expression that is heavy and powerful but is also beautiful in the ways that we write, the ways that we paint, the ways that we move, how we dance, how we love each other, build family, build community."

"I feel it in Jillian's work. I feel it in Julia's work and I hope that it resonates in my work as well."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.