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University of Rhode Island[email protected]Senior Honors ProjectsHonors Program at the University of Rhode Island5-2008AIDS Art: Activism on CanvasLucy SumnersUniversity of Rhode Island, [email protected]Follow this and additional works at:Part of theArt and Design Commons, and theGender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity inCommunication CommonsThis Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Honors Program at the University of Rhode Island at [email protected] It has beenaccepted for inclusion in Senior Honors Projects by an authorized administrator of [email protected] For more information, please contact[email protected].Recommended CitationSumners, Lucy, "AIDS Art: Activism on Canvas" (2008).Senior Honors Projects.Paper 77.
Lucy Sumners Honors Project – AIDS Art: Activism on Canvas “Art can translate the experience of living with AIDS; art can define courage and loss; art can ignite activism; and art can enlarge human understanding so as to change behavior and limit the spread of infection.” Hoosen M. Coovadia, M.D.1“But, bottom line, this is my own sense of urgency and need; bottom line, emotionally, even a tiny charcoal scratching done as a gesture to marks a person’s response to this epidemic means whole worlds to me if it is hung in public; bottom line, each and every gesture carries a reverberation that is meaningful in its diversity; bottom line, we have to find our own forms of gesture and communication. You can never depend on the mass media to reflect us or our needs or our states of mind; bottom line, with enough gestures we can deafen the satellites and lift the curtains surrounding 1Hoosen Coovadia, Bodies of Resistance, ed. Julia Bryan-Wilson and Barbara Hunt (New York: Visual AIDS, 2000), p. 6.
the control room.” David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration2AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) was first reported in the United States in 1981. Since then, AIDS has become a pandemic that has infected 0.6% of the world’s population, approximately 33.2 million people, and 2.1 million people have died from the disease so far. Everyone is affected, either directly or indirectly, by AIDS and as a result protest groups were formed to elicit awareness and change in how persons with AIDS (PWAs) were and still are treated and one of the more prominent ways of getting activist groups’ voices heard by the general population is through protest art or public works or art. “Our mourning strives to be public, and to engage public institutions, because it is in the public domain that the value of the lives of our dead loved ones is so frequently questioned or denied. Thus the epidemic requires a public art, which might adequately memorialize and pay respect to our dead,”3writes Simon Watney in an article memorializing the works of Ross Bleckner.