Having AIDS can cause people to look at you differently but you are a person. You have feelings, a family, and love others. Just because you have this difference doesn’t mean you are nothing and that was what this exhibition showed. Art AIDS America at the Bronx Museum taught me things through amazingly made artworks that schools would never teach you.
Art AIDS America, was organized by Tacoma Art Museum and The Bronx Museum of the Arts and co-curated by Chief Curator Rock Hushka and Jonathan David Katz. The work featured artist who were affected by the disease from 1980, when the outbreak started, to today with artist such as Jesse Finley Reed, KiKi Smith, and Keith Haring. The artist put their souls into their pieces that make the observer think.
Tino Rodriguez used natural elements including, flowers, leaves, and the human form, a skeleton, to portray his idea of gay love. This piece draws the viewer with the bright colors in the flowers and the gold edging on the frame. Using the black background and the composition of the couple, it causes our eyes to immediately go to the kissing form and stay on it. He used the idea of kissing, something that people associate with happiness, to portray his idea and allows the observer to formulate theirs. Using the skulls and natural materials, it shows that it shouldn’t matter what the people look like on the outside to have an intimate relationship. Gender of the couple should not matter in the scheme of things.
The curators use placement to their advantage by putting Kiki Smith’s piece, Red Spill, on the floor. Smith finds the fraught beauty in a life giving substance, blood, that can unknowingly transmit HIV. If someone who is infected with HIV somehow gets their blood mixed up with someone who is HIV negative, than the HIV negative person can possibly become positive over time. Something that creates us and makes us can also destroy us. She uses red glass that suggest fluidity and stillness. The glass shows such delicateness to something that everybody needs. Something that everybody has and yet a selected few can become overwhelmed by it, like HIV. Something that can also be beautiful and ugly. Blood connects the human body and makes it one and allows us to relate to one another no matter the race, religion, or sexuality.
And The Spell Was Broken Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Brett Reichman is another amazing piece in this exhibition. He references the Wizard of Oz in his title but also hints at the relationship between the main actor in the movie, Judy Garland as Dorothy, with the gay community. He combines three canvases to create this painting. With the vibrant colors of the rainbow and painted clock, it takes me back to a classic tale. When Cinderella went to the ball, she had to look different that what she normally looked like. When the clock strikes 12 a.m., she always had to rush home and become someone else but one day she didn’t have to and was accepted by the prince even though she was a maid, which is shown as a non-attractive job in Disney movies. Just like in today’s society where gay people have to be someone else to be accepted. They have taken steps for them to be able to be who they are. For example they have worked towards gay marriage which is becoming more common and more accepted. Gay individuals don’t have to hide anymore or be someone else, like Cinderella. This “spell” of people hating gays are slowly decreasing and allowing them to reach over the rainbow and grab the gold. Overall this exhibition was amazing and I definitely would recommend it to somebody who not only loves art but wants to get a glimpse inside of what it feels like to suffer from AIDS or witnessing friends or family suffer from it.