December 1 2012
In 1991 in New York, a small group calling themselves the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus designed and began to distribute crossed red ribbons, a work of public art that for twenty years has permeated culture as a symbol of compassion and understanding. Its simplicity allows the complex and evolving issues surrounding HIV/AIDS to remain rooted in red: forceful, sanguinary, tenacious. The misconception that "AIDS is over"—that fewer people have it, that a cure has been found—has settled too comfortably over public opinion, disguised as a benign appreciation for medicine and surging support for LGBT rights. But HIV/AIDS is omitted from that acronym; its stigma persists.
I'm thrilled to feature Osvaldo Perdomo's painting "Fire" on the cover of this issue. Osvaldo, whose talent as a painter and photographer was discovered as part of the art program at the Gay Men's Health Crisis, gives us an emblem of the growing counter-attack led by GMHC, ACT UP and others: HIV/AIDS is not over. The number of new diagnoses still rises in certain populations, even in the US; inaccurate facts about the transmission and treatment of the virus still affect media coverage and education; ineffectual public policy hinders certain efforts to distribute condoms or clean needles. "Fire" represents the determination, the mourning, the anger that we need to feel in order to reach a global space that is virus-free.
Today is World AIDS Day, and in honor of the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS, The Adirondack Review has made a donation matching the Fulton Prize to GHMC. This weekend, Osvaldo will co-curate the GMHC "Art and AIDS: It's Not Over" exhibit at the Leslie/Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art in Soho. Show your support and stop by: visual art often reaches into difficult places to transcend words, and Osvaldo and his fellow GMHC artists offer pieces that are sharpened by beauty and pain, that challenge the object parallax, that celebrate life and offer hope.
Take your time as you browse through this issue, our own small gesture toward the entangled transformative power of literature and art.