Living With Exhibition Offers Opportunity to Share AIDS History

Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus program

Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus program

Georgia Equality will honor World AIDS Day this year with a provocative community art exhibit at West Midtown’s Gallery 874 on November 30–December 1, 2016. The exhibit, Living With, explores the life stories of five HIV positive young people in Georgia through a series of multi-media installations created by local artists working alongside the youth themselves. Living With is a modern interpretation of the largest piece of folk art in history: The AIDS Memorial Quilt, panels of which will also be on display at the exhibit.

Living With seeks to challenge the fear-based narrative about HIV that leads to stigma and discrimination for those living with the virus and deters those at risk from getting tested or even talking about risk. “Artists have a long tradition of speaking loudly and bravely about HIV when no one else would,” says Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “This exhibit reminds us that many people are living and thriving with HIV and that stigma and discrimination can be deadlier than the virus itself.”

Unsigned, Billy Howard photograph from Epitaphs for the Living

Unsigned, Billy Howard photograph from Epitaphs for the Living

Rose Library is honored to contribute to the project through the inclusion of two composite pieces created from materials in its LGBTQ- and AIDS-related collections. Four images from the Billy Howard photographs will be featured, as well as materials from the  SCLC/W.O.M.E.N. Inc. records, David A. Lowe papers, and Southeastern Arts, Media & Education Project records, among others. Curator of modern political and southern historical collections Randy Gue is “excited materials from the Rose Library’s significant holdings of materials that document the HIV/AIDS crisis will be included in Living With. Items from our collections will link the exhibition’s remarkable artwork and installations to the longer historical narrative of community response to HIV.”

The Living With exhibit is open to the public 9:00am to 9:00pm on November 30th and 9:00am to 5:00pm on December 1st. The following events will take place as part of Georgia Equality’s World AIDS Day- Atlanta programming:

World AIDS Day Atlanta Policy & Action Luncheon Wednesday, November 30, 2016 11:30am to 1:30pm Gallery 874

At this 3rd annual luncheon for elected officials and community leaders, youth activists in the Youth HIV Policy Advisors’ Program will educate Metro Atlanta elected officials and community leaders with a strategic policy agenda to address the city’s long-entrenched HIV epidemic. To request tickets for an elected official or community leader, contact Emily at Emily [at] GeorgiaEquality [dot] org.

World AIDS Day-Atlanta Community Conversation: Is it Time to Decriminalize HIV? Wednesday, November 30, 2016 5:30pm to 8:30pm Gallery 874

Join Atlanta-based advocates for a casual, facilitated discussion about current Georgia laws on criminal transmission of HIV and avenues for advocacy in favor of reform. Light refreshments will be served and attendees will have time to peruse the Living With exhibit before the discussion begins. This event is free and open to the public, and tickets are not required. To view the Facebook event, click here.

World AIDS Day- Atlanta Living With Closing Reception Thursday, December 1, 2016 6:00pm to 9:00pm Gallery 874

This private, ticketed event will commemorate World AIDS Day and raise awareness and support for Georgia Equality’s ongoing HIV advocacy. Guests will peruse the Living With exhibit, meet the artists and the youth whose stories their art depicts, and enjoy food and beverages handcrafted especially for the event from Atlanta’s top food artists. Tickets are on sale at www.GeorgiaEquality.org/HIV. Proceeds will support programs like the Georgia HIV Advocacy Network and the Youth HIV Policy Advisors Program.

Georgia’s HIV epidemic is long entrenched and growing. Over 53,000 Georgians are living with HIV and over 2,500 are diagnosed annually. Georgia ranked 2nd out of all US states for number of new HIV diagnoses in 2014 and 5th among all US states in the number of people living with HIV. Fewer than half of HIV+ Georgians are receiving the care needed to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others.