For many years, the population of Buffalo’s refugee communities has been swelling with new members who have arrived from zones of conflict and poverty around the world to make new lives for themselves in the Queen City. Slowly but steadily, the faces of these new residents have been making their way into the city’s vast visual arts scene in exhibitions at CEPA Gallery and off-the-beaten-track arts spaces such as the WASH Project on Massachusetts Avenue.
An exhibition of photographs by Lukia Costello in several venues along Allen Street is the newest entry into this growing collection of work that speaks to the experiences of refugees. The show, which contains 23 black-and-white photographs of anonymous refugees Costello met during three years teaching English in Buffalo’s public schools, is viewable through the windows of restaurants, galleries and cafés from the Allen Street sidewalk. It was funded by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.
“I choose to hang in storefronts so that the work would be easily visible to the refugees from the street,” Costello said in a statement, adding that many refugees walk along Allen Street on their way to and from English as a Second Language classes at the nearby Workplace Learning Center.
The exhibition takes place along Allen Street between Mariner and Franklin streets and on Elmwood Avenue just north of Allen Street. Participating venues include Madonna’s, Cafe 59, Allen Street Dress Shop, Lonnie B’s Beads, Quaker Bonnet, Buffalo Big Print, El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, El Buen Amigo, Allen Street Hardware and Cafe Taza. It remains on view through March 20 with an artist’s talk at 7 p.m. March 7 in El Museo (91 Allen St.).
– Colin Dabkowski