CAM’s Day With(out) art event will focus on AIDS awareness | Art Stories and Interviews | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
Community and care. These two words sum up what Museum of Modern Art (3750 Washington Blvd) will focus on its upcoming Day With(out) Art: Enduring Care event on December 1. The event focuses on World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic and the 40th anniversary of the first HIV diagnosis.
St. Louis was actually the home of one of the first AIDS patients. Sixteen-year-old Robert Rayford died in 1969 at City Hospital officially of pneumonia, but doctors tested his tissue in 1987 – six years after the AIDS epidemic began – and found that his death was caused by an AIDS-related illness.
CAM is partnering with the non-profit organization Visual AIDS to organize the event. Beginning with a panel discussion, a panel will discuss the power of community care through activism, cultural organizing and art.
Charles Long, an artist and activist on the panel, is involved in a group called “What Would an HIV Doula Do?” which focuses on providing direct services and support to people living with HIV or AIDS. The activist says RFT the panel will likely discuss recent events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and how community care plays a role.
“We’ve seen communities step in and fill the void where traditional services provided by institutions like government have failed,” Long says. “The importance of community care, not just in these times, has always been there, especially around HIV/AIDS activism.”
Long will be on the panel alongside Lois Conley, Facilitator of the Impact HIV/AIDS Initiative and Founder of the Griot Museum of Black History, as well as Montrelle Day, Senior Outreach Specialist at the Community Wellness Project and HIV educators. .
A press release details that the program “aims to disrupt the assumption that an epidemic can be solved only with pharmaceuticals.” Instead, the press release points to “corrupt leadership in government and nonprofit organizations, as well as broader racial and gender inequalities that persist despite scientific advances.”
The round table leads to the screening of films commissioned by Visual AIDS. Filmmaker Katherine Cheairs will have her short film Voice at the door shown on Jour Sans Art. Voice at the door was created during the pandemic and throughout difficult personal times for Cheairs and his family. She is grateful that he came to life and to the members of Visual AIDS who supported her throughout the making of the film.
Her film is a collection of archival essays and poems by incarcerated women, many of whom were living with HIV or AIDS. The poems, originally written in the 90s, are performed by contemporary activists, but the cinematography focuses on the landscape surrounding prisons in rural communities, describes Cheairs.
“I’ve always been struck by the beauty of this campaign,” Cheairs said in an interview with the RFT“and then, you know, just up the hill and over there is this big structure with these big doors and holding spaces.”
Voice at the door focuses on this juxtaposition of open land right next to a space where people are confined. She says she wants the people of St. Louis to be present when they watch the film, to be open to the words and images they hear and see.
“I made a film that’s sort of a meditation,” Cheairs says. “There is this idea of the earth as a witness. The idea of a tree as a witness that listens, that it also hears a container of stories. Even though people are behind the prison wall, they still have a life, they still have their creativity. May their voices, their message to the world go beyond that. Because we have, you know, many people who are incarcerated now, it’s just not in the past – it’s a present and ongoing experience.
Long and Cheairs hope the panel discussion and films will help inspire the people of St. Louis to continue the conversation about HIV/AIDS and community care. Long often says people believe the focal point of activism is on the coasts, but he hopes Day With(out) Art can help St. Louis residents feel more connected to “cross-sections of the sea.” ‘art and community’.
Cheairs wants to remind others that HIV and AIDS still exist and to think about the past where the “vibrant activism” of the 80s and 90s was prevalent. She cites AIDS activists like Katrina Haslip and Joanne Walker as inspiration.
“These women were fighting in prison for human rights, for access to HIV, to medicines, to access to health care as a right, not as someone who was ready to throw themselves away because that the state or the people who put them there thought that was where they belonged,” Cheairs says. “For these women to say, ‘No, I’m actually a human being. I need You have to include me in the definition of AIDS I need support, I need resources I will expect this prison to really care about me because I am a member of the community. That’s something we need to think about now.”
Other videos will also be broadcast, focusing on mutual aid and collective care. The St. Louis City Health Department, St. Louis and Southwestern Missouri Area Planned Parenthood and other organizations are expected to have tables with information at the event.
A Day With(out) Art runs from 5:30-7 p.m. on December 1. Free entry. Hot drinks and light refreshments are also expected at the event.
Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the event took place from 5-7 p.m. We have updated the article with the correct time and apologize for the error.
Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at [email protected]
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