by Bobbi Booker
In reflecting on 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, the multimedia visual arts exhibition “Witness” beckons artists to reengage themselves and their communities in remembering a world impacted by AIDS. “The artists invited and selected reflect a diverse gathering of voices across, race, age, gender, sexual orientation and geographic location,” said the show’s curator, David Acosta.
“‘Witness’ asks the audience to reflect individually and collectively on the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a transformative moment in our lives, our communities and society.”
In responding to the call, one of the artists in the show, Tree Byers, said it was all about the loss of friends. “In 2000, my dear friend, Blue, died from AIDS quite suddenly, and I was not prepared to lose him. Yet slowly I was learning that grief is the garden of compassion.
‘Witness’ is inspiring me to dig through my photos and find images on which to base some form of visual/textual homage and remembrance of friends.”
Tay Cohen Cha, a Korean-born New York-based artist also participating in ‘Witness,’ said he wants his work “to show how the AIDS epidemic shakes individuals as well as their support networks to the core and to remind people that there is so much more we can do to raise awareness to the devastating affects of HIV/AIDS.”
The artists participating in “Witness” include: George Apostos, Laura Bamford, Craig Bruns, Tree Byers, Tay Cha, Ronald Corbin, Susan DiPronio, Jonas Dos Santos, Harvey Finkle, Ralfka Gonzalez, Link Harper, Theodore Harris, Ed Hall, HD Ivey, Albo Jeavons, Peter Lien, Gabriel Martinez, Kwaku Osei, Chanthaphone Rajavong, Marta Sanchez, Jombi Supastar, Zoe Strauss and Nannette Clark.
“The goal that I think is most important is to make people aware that AIDS is still a major health crisis throughout the world,” said Clark. “Although there have been major strides in helping to prolong the lives of those with HIV/AIDS in the United States, those in so-called ‘Third World’ countries have not, for the most part, been the beneficiaries of these medical advances on any widespread basis. AIDS is still an epidemic in these countries. My work and the work of the other artists in the exhibit will hopefully help to continue to raise the consciousness of the ongoing seriousness and emergency situation of AIDS both domestically and throughout the world.”
The opening reception for “Witness” will take place on Friday, Dec 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St., a community-based arts center that explores the diverse experiences of Asian Americans. The exhibition will remain on view through Jan. 27.
For more information, call (215) 557-0455 or visit www.asianartsinitiative.org.
image: TayCha “The Tension and the Terror”