It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to create a piece just because. In late April of this year, I was asked to participate in the International AIDS Society’s Conference – AIDS2020 by creating a piece for their “Profiles in Resilience” series that would have been on display at the conference. The conference is held at different locales around the world and was to be hosted in Oakland, California this Jully. However, due to the arrival of Coivd-19 on the world scene, the conference will now be hosted virtually. My piece will now be included in a virtual gallery.
For those of you who may not know, I have spent the last 11 years working in the HIV/AIDS arena and have had the privilege of attending a few of the conferences (nationally and internationally) and am thankful for the opportunity.
The concept for the series was novel and exciting. Each artist was provided with a brief Bio and quote from a local HIV/AIDS activist and asked to conceptualize an image based upon the information provided. The particular activist I was paired with I also know personally which made the project even more exciting for me. The universe definitely knows how to navigate with serendipity and humor!
My conception for the project was based upon an image I have created previously, but with some additional changes and twists. I really enjoyed having the opportunity and the time to contribute to such a worthwhile cause. I enjoyed working with the IAS creative team and am honored to have been selected for inclusion.
The quote for the piece read, “Don’t grow weary in well doing. In due season we will reap if we don’t give up. We will find a cure for HIV and the world will be better for it.”
I wanted to depict the hope and faith I have encountered among many those whom I know and love that have been living with this virus on a daily basis. Their resilience, optimism, and determination have inspired me to be a better person and work harder to provide the needed services and support that helps them to survive and thrive- while we wait and work toward a cure. They are my friends and I am grateful to have been accepted into their community!
The ribbon is the symbolic AIDS ribbon that has been a longstanding symbol of the movement. The sun above the figure is indicative of hope in the dawning of a new day without HIV/AIDS. The flowers and tall grasses beneath the figure symbolize the growth and flourishing of this community despite, stigma, and discrimination. The figure stands with his arms outstretched, and head tilted up toward the sun as the breath of life blows over and through him.