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DePaul Art Museum explores HIV/AIDS

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The DePaul Art Museum will unveil its newest exhibition: an innovative look at the HIV/AIDs crisis told through the eyes of children, entitled “One day this kid will get larger” on Jan. 26.

The exhibition was curated by Danny Ordenorff, a curator, writer, teacher and activist who creates work about the “histories of grassroots social-justice activism and theories of gender and sexuality,” according to his website. Orendorff is currently working as interim manager of Public and Community programs for the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, though he traces his roots back to the southern suburbs of Chicago.

“I developed the theme and concept, selected all of the artists and artworks, and wrote the texts,” Orendorff said, explaining his role as curator. “I wanted to do a show that looked at the current state of HIV/AIDS in North America and that emphasized the experiences of a younger generation that often do not get highlighted in exhibitions more concerned with artwork produced during the height of the AIDS crisis in America in the ‘80s.”

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that damages white blood cells, resulting in people having a difficult time fighting off diseases or infections. AIDS develops later on, once a person has already contracted HIV.

There are 25,500 people living in Chicago with HIV, according to WGN, and 1,100 new cases are diagnosed each year in Chicago alone. African Americans and gay and bisexual men make up the two largest groups of HIV diagnoses each year.

“This is an exhibition that explores the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis through the experiences of young people or that the artists featured in the exhibition, primarily born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, had while learning about HIV/AIDS as young people,” Orendorff said. “It looks at those experiences through the sub-themes of Childhoods, Educations and Nightlifes/Pop Cultures.”

dpam_shankelley2

“Growing Concern” by Shan Kelley is one of many pieces of art on display at DPAM’s latest exhibit. (Photo courtesy of THE DEPAUL ART MUSEUM)

“The inspiration came in the form of an invitation from DePaul Art Museum’s director and curator, Julie Rodrigues Widholm, to curate an exhibition in response to the Alphawood Foundation’s presentation of ArtAIDSAmerica,” Orendorff said.

ArtAIDSAmerica is currently being shown at the Alphawood Gallery, just down the street from the DePaul Art Museum. This exhibition is similar to “One day this kid will get older,” showing images of HIV in art. The exhibition is currently open and will remain so until April 2.

This exhibition also focuses on diversity and inclusion, a common topic found within the DePaul Art Museum.

“I am lucky to be connected to queer, feminist, anti-racist and activist artists and organizations all over the country based on my own political and social commitments,” Orendorff said. “Many of the artists in this show work as social workers, photojournalists, educators and community organizers beyond their work as artists.”

In this exhibition, one gallery will feature media and audio regarding HIV/AIDS. This shows another side of the crisis, expanding on the artwork featured in the first gallery.

“I think it’s important to hear the voices of the actual subjects of a portrait or photojournalistic series, so some of the audio accounts more for an individual relationship to the themes under consideration,” Orendorff said. “Additionally, HIV/AIDS influences media-making on many different levels, so it was important to me to bring in music in particular, as music and nightclubs have historically been a place for LGBTQ to find community.

Nightclubs have indeed been seen as a community for LGBTQ members. Just over six months ago, a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. was attacked.

This shooting was the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ people in U.S. history, drawing more awareness to the community.

This artwork, both visual and audio, also draws attention to the need for better education regarding the HIV/AIDS crisis.

“I think artwork allows for greater complexity and calls for greater empathy from a viewer than more straightforward types of media,” Orendorff said. “I think artwork also provides a social and political record of how artists and activists were thinking or feeling during any given time.”

Visitors entering the exhibition will first be met by “Growing Concerns,” a photograph by Shan Kelley.

“(It) features an image of the artists’ infant children crawling in a crib under a colorful wall hanging that reads ‘What will you teach your children about AIDS?’” Ordenorff said. “I think that’s a question any and all of us raising or working with young people today need to be asking.”

Admission to the DePaul Art Museum, located east of the Fullerton ‘L’ stop, is free. The exhibition will run Jan. 26 through April 2 and includes local artists such as Aay Preston-Myint, Oil Rodriguez, Angela Davis Fegan and Jackie Carmen Guerrero.

“It is important that young people are still making work about HIV/AIDS because it is still a crisis in this county,” Orendorff said.

“HIV/AIDS is not over.”

1 Comment

One Response to “DePaul Art Museum explores HIV/AIDS”

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DePaul Art Museum explores HIV/AIDS