mixed media, collage
“The exploration of the SOS Art Retrospective artworks inspired my artwork because I got to look at all of these very different people, be so passionate and care so much about a specific topic and that really made me evaluate what issues in the world I really care about.
I learned a good amount about the two different sides to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and even now. The media depicted this pandemic as a curse from God onto sexually deviant people and that this came from the Gay population in major cities. The reality of the situation was that the epidemic came from a lack of LGBTQ sex education, lack of knowledge when it came to germs passed through needles, blood transfusion and hard drugs and a government who would rather let a whole population drop dead in the streets rather than acknowledge gay people exist and are human beings.
I came up with the idea of showing the duality of the two different takes of this epidemic, the one that the media portrayed, and still sometimes portray and the humane side to the epidemic, with real people behind the quilts, in the hospital beds, in the marches and holding the signs.
I selected a bunch of really harsh newspaper headlines to collage at the top of my piece to depict how cruelly this underrepresented group of people were being treated during this time. The improvised aids quilts are used to show hope and how there are people that remember when our own government turned its back on us and how we are still fighting this fight. The college of protestors show the action people were taking in this epidemic and the images of people in the hospital show the sad reality of what happens when you ignore something like this. The needles represent that this isn’t just a sex and “sodomy” produced disease, it also comes from drug use and unclean needles with blood transfusions. Finally, the bloody hand represents thousands and millions of people who have died from this disease.
The message I am trying to get across, as a proud member of the LGBTQ community is that we need to take human rights seriously. This is how discrimination laws started. Groups of people being denied small rights here and there but soon being treated as less than humans as this community has had to endure for thousands of years, even in present day. Yes, we have gay marriage and have steadily been gaining more rights in health care, adoption and living but there is still a long way to go in terms of equality, especially when people still exist that actively use the basis of ignorance and religion to hate, harm and kill people who just want to live freely as themselves.”