Art AIDS America is the first exhibition to explore how the AIDS crisis forever changed American art. Since the first reports of mysterious illnesses in the early 1980s, HIV and AIDS have touched nearly every American in some way, and operated as an undeniable, though often unacknowledged, force in shaping politics, medicine, culture and society. While acknowledging and honoring the enormous anger, loss and grief generated by the epidemic, the exhibition refutes the narrative that AIDS is only a tragic tangent in American art. Instead, Art AIDS America offers a story of resilience and beauty revealed through the visual arts, and of the communities that gathered to bring hope and change in the face of a devastating disease.
The Chicago presentation of Art AIDS America features 170 significant works of contemporary art in a wide range of media – from painting and photography to sculpture and video. Representing more than 100 artists, the exhibition includes works by Judy Chicago, Chloe Dzubilo, Karen Finley, Robert Gober, Félix González-Torres, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Derek Jackson, Barbara Kruger, Kia Labeija, Annie Leibovitz, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlon Riggs, Andres Serrano, Kiki Smith, Joey Terrill, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong and many others. To highlight Chicago’s own history and the powerful voices of its diverse art communities, several artists have been added to the Chicago presentation, including Gregg Bordowitz, Roger Brown, Doug Ischar, Patric McCoy, Michael Qualls, Oli Rodriguez, Daniel Sotomayor and Israel Wright.
With a robust schedule of public programming, Art AIDS America serves as a catalyst for a citywide dialogue on the cultural impact of HIV/AIDS. Through panels, discussions, artist talks, performances and related events presented in association with local arts and advocacy community allies, topics explored include art and activism then and now, equitable representation of people of color, and the intersection of HIV/AIDS with race, gender and age. The goal is to spark needed conversations, encourage the exchange of different perspectives and ultimately create change. In addition to these programs, visitors are provided the opportunity to preserve and share their personal stories of the AIDS crisis through a partnership with StoryCorps, an organization dedicated to recording and preserving oral histories across America.