The growing downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) has increasingly become a focal point for the city’s development. Despite this medical resource, members of our Buffalo community continue to confront significant health and wellness challenges.
In the fall of 2018, Charmaine Wheatley met with individuals from innovative organizations in and around the Medical Campus. These initiatives address a variety of inter-related issues: homelessness and mental health; neighborhood and race-related health disparities; patient relationships and perspectives on the healthcare system as well as issues of diagnosis-related stigma and access.
Through one-on-one sittings, a collective portrait of the communities brings into visual conversation individuals working in the BNMC’s Innovation Labs, UB medical students and facilitators involved with the Health in the Neighborhood course, 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 present a vision that is consistent with the belief that the health of our city relies on a person-centered approach to care and an understanding of the lived contexts that contribute to health and wellness.
The Future of Health in the City has been an expansion of Wheatley’s artist residency at the University of Rochester’s Medical Center. In this project, as well as in her work in Rochester, Wheatley helps bring visibility to the work being done to envision a new future for the city. Her work highlights the value of portraiture as a vehicle for humanizing and thereby building compassionate connections across communities.