"There Never Was a Woman of My Dreams," 2004.
Courtesy of artist John Arsenault
“Art AIDS America,” a traveling exhibit dedicated to showcasing the impact of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s on American art, will arrive in Chicago on World AIDS Day 2016.
More than 100 works from artists including Roger Brown, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer and Annie Leibovitz, will be featured.
The newly built Alphawood Gallery, at 2401 N. Halsted, will be home to the collection from December 1, 2016, to April 2, 2017. Admission will be free, with timed entry tickets.
“Art AIDS America’s” goal is to show the intersection of art, AIDS, and how the 1980s epidemic changed America,” said James McDonough, executive director at the Alphawood Foundation.
Anthony Hirschel, formerly the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, is overseeing the Chicago presentation of the traveling exhibit. “By working with the local arts community, academics, and Chicago’s advocacy organizations who have been supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS for decades, we intend to present an exhibition that will strengthen and bring together communities from across our great city like no other,” he said in a prepared statement.
The works featured will showcase “a story of resilience and beauty,” and of community even “in the face of a devastating disease,” according to the official statement about the exhibit.
The collection have featured at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington state, the Zuckerman Museum in suburban Atlanta, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City before finishing its tour in Chicago.
The Alphawood Foundation stepped in to host the show in Chicago when the Tacoma and Bronx Museums, the exhibit’s organizers, “had difficulty finding venues,” McDonough said. Alphawood, a Chicago-based grant-making foundation, is a supporter of the arts and an advocate of people living with HIV/AIDS, McDonough said.
In partnering with the exhibition, the foundation hopes to honor those who’s lives were touched by the AIDS epidemic, McDonough said. Many people who didn’t live through that era, now view it as a historical artifact like the Vietnam War, he said.
Through a partnership with StoryCorps, visitors can share their personal stories about how the AIDS epidemic touched their lives, McDonough said. He hopes other organizations will have exhibits and events that complement “Art AIDS America.”
“We’re happy to give it a home and as wide an audience as possible,” McDonough said.
For more information, visit artaidsamericachicago.org.