Our Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

As a precaution to help limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and care for our community, Just Buffalo Literary Center has postponed a number of events, and we will follow the guidance of Buffalo Public Schools in terms of Just Buffalo Writing Center programming.

Learn More

Eyes Tied Together: JBWC Young Writers Featured at Burchfield Penney Art Center

For the past year, JBWC writers, along with young artists from Buffalo Center for Art and Technology, Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center and the Buffalo Public Schools, have been taking part in a community arts collaboration inspired by artist LeRoi Johnson’s exhibit currently on view at Burchfield Penney Art Center, LeRoi: Living in Color.

LeRoi Johnson Exhibit - Writing Center - Poets - Burchfield Penney - Just Buffalo

JBWC writers got to meet LeRoi during a writing workshop to begin the collaboration. At that session, Johnson shared his ongoing journey as an artist and selections of his vibrant, “electric primitive” style artworks. The young writers wrote moving, complex poems and stories in response that sometimes amplified the artist’s intent and other times created new meanings and stories within them.

As we explored his work, we discussed themes such as colorism and racism, the systematic oppression of Black communities despite the fact that our nation and others were built upon the backs of Black people and their talents and accomplishments. We discussed themes of identity, searching for who we are, our ability to change and morph, and how we all might wear multiple faces, with LeRoi stating, “The me of yesterday is not the me of today.”

Haya - LeRoi Johnson Exhibit - Writing Center - Poets - Burchfield Penney - Just Buffalo

Ten JBWC writers participated and their creations are mounted in the gallery beside the LeRoi artwork that inspired them. Those pieces, and all the other programs’ youth creations, are also featured in a stunning, innovative digital publication, Eyes Tied Together, put together by BCAT.

Leni - Made to Order Poems - LeRoi Johnson Exhibit - Writing Center - Poets - Burchfield Penney - Just Buffalo

Along with their work being featured in the gallery, JBWC poets became a living part of the exhibit during a 2nd Friday event during which they wrote made-to-order poems on typewriters inspired by LeRoi’s work for gallery visitors. They also performed their pieces during a symposium on youth voice: No Place for Art—which JBWC poets Abuk, Haya, Keira and Liam opened with a collaborative poem.

This project aligns powerfully with our values at the JBWC: taking young artists seriously and providing them with resources & platforms to share their creations and ideas; connecting young artists from different art forms & neighborhoods to build community; and encouraging them to use the arts to help them process the world and their place in it.

The exhibition and supporting programming was awarded the Engaging Communities 2023 Award of Distinction from the Museum Association of New York! It’s on view until March 26th!