Monday, October 15, 2012

Living with HIV

Living with HIV. Stitched words: Didn't always practice safe sex. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. 25" x 19", unframed. 31" x 25", framed. Hand beaded and stitched.  Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A year ago the Decision Portrait Series started. Since that time I've talked and written about the more than 30 finished pieces and the dozens of potential works I'd like to stitch. Frequently, I say, "This series isn't about value judgments." IT ISN'T!

Yet, everyone doesn't agree with all the decisions being depicted and some of the choice made aren't exactly examples of prudent behavior. This still doesn't change anything; the series still isn't focusing on value judgments. Besides, who among us hasn't made a mistake, made a less than ideal decision?

From the beginning, I planned to exhibit the entire group....and I've started submitting proposals for solo show already. I want people to come face-to-face with the stitched xylene photo transfers....confront the myriad of complex decisions. I want people to react to the work. I want to stimulate an emotional and intellectual response. It is supposed to be thought provoking.

Some of the portraits are meant to have viewers question how they might act in a similar situation. To ask, "Would I donate a kidney? Leave an abusive spouse? Take a loved one off life support?" Some of the portraits, like this one, will hopefully get viewers to think about their reactions to someone else's choices: "How would I respond to an interracial couple or people with different religious beliefs or to someone admitting to a poor choice made during a passionate moment resulting in a lifetime with the HIV virus?"

Well, I know exactly how I would react. I've been there. The man who posed for this portrait once worked with me. He confined his condition shortly after being diagnosed. At the time, we were best friends. I considered him the brother I never had. My reaction to his news made me care more deeply; and, for a short time, we were even closer. His medical condition certainly didn't pull us apart. There were other issues....and that's another, long, long story.

Suffice it to say, our friendship and working relationship ended badly. I was very hurt. We didn't communicate for nearly eight year....until this portrait.

Forgiveness is a powerful force. Hearing an apology did wonders for my soul. A fragile reconciliation made this artwork possible. I sincerely hope this portrait, when viewed by others, touches people as much as stitching it has touched me.

HIV affects millions worldwide. Compassion and understanding are necessary to deal with this infection.

I finished this portrait several days ago. Today, Kim Lemaster came to my studio and saw the work and read the statement I'd composed. He had no problem with his name being used and suggested linking PALSS, (, a South Carolina organization that raises fund and awareness for the battle against Aids. (I've been a long time supporter myself and have written several blog posts about the annual Dining With Friends charity art event with which I've been involved.) It was nice to talk about art with someone I care about.

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