Materials of Survival
In the last few years, I've been creating visual images that captures aspects of being HIV+. Facing HIV has been a major task of my adult life. I have created a series of photographs and graphic images that contemplates and interprets this experience. I have used the paraphernalia of HIV: the drugs, pill bottles, blood vials and test results to build photographs and collages to reflect the unexpected symbols and emotions that being a long term survivor has created.
The daily ritual of medication reminds one of one’s status and the dependence on these drugs in maintaining well being. Using multiple images of objects (such as pills) suggest the passage of time and implies the emotional impact of the interaction. Creating colorful patterns produce other reactions that are often counterpoint to the physical objects and their relationship to health and disease.
Many people living with HIV are fortunate to be able to take advantage of these treatments, yet at times, there is resentment to be struggling with a lifelong disease. Grateful to have been spared illness, fears and anticipation still color one’s perceptions of the past, present and future. Our survival can, at times, make us wonder why we are still here while others who we knew and loved are not. Even today, there is stigma and many unknowns that people with HIV must grapple with. We can feel aggrieved by the psychic toil that continues to be made upon our lives. While the anxiety, fear and loss of the past decades have decreased significantly, the knowledge of how HIV has transformed and burdened our lives has deepened. We often are amazed at our resilience and inner strengths. These are the thoughts and feelings that my work attempts to contemplate.