Impact of COVID-19

Leslie S. #UU20
We’ve finalized the final aesthetic for the project website. Thanks to Leslie S. for being one of our first volunteers!

On March 16th, we were supposed to have another project meeting for #CelebrateUU. We had been working on the final details needed to be able to launch a stronger recruitment effort, gearing up for an art intervention on World AIDS Day 2020.

I found three friends to volunteer to be test subjects. We finalized the project “esthetic” for the portraits I would be taking as a way of jump-starting the larger social movement (see Leslie’s photo above). Across individuals, we will vary the dominant color using a palette of 7 colors. The overall effect should be quite colorful, bright and upbeat – this is a celebration quilt after all!

We were also finalizing our sign-up and release forms, and figuring out how we would capture people’s stories. There was still some work to be done, but I was hoping for an April. 1 recruitment launch.

Then the world came to a grinding hault.

Our project meeting was the same day when our Indy mayor announced the closing of bars and restaurants across the city, as the country prepared for social distancing and eventual shelter in place orders to curtail the spread of the virus. Needless to say, the meeting was postponed. Indefinitely.

At this point, it may be awhile before I can safely bring people in for a photo session. If there is a target date out there, it’s likely to change. So, whether we will be ready for an art intervention on December 2, 2020 – World AIDS Day – is hard to say at this point.

But, I’d like to keep moving forward somehow, someway.

I know in many respects, there are larger issues that need to be worked through. But, the issue of stigma isn’t going away or putting itself on hold while we work through this global crisis. Neither then, in my opinion, can we put art and social justice efforts on hold, because the way this crisis unfolds will be shaped by how we continue to deal with inequality and stigma.

Moving Forward: Focus on selfies first!

I was originally hoping to use portrait sessions in my studio to help seed the larger movement. This is where the esthetic played a key role – putting all those images on our website would be a colorfully powerful collage.

But, this has always been about empowering people to celebrate their own milestones through a selfie post. We were just hoping to jump start the movement with a local effort and art intervention.

So, we will return to the simple selfie!

#CelebrateUU is born!
#CelebrateUU Selfie – selfie, sign, hashtags, story, share!

Join the #Celebrate UU movement!

If you or someone you know is living with HIV/AIDS, please join us in ending the stigma of HIV/AIDS by reclaiming our diagnosis, celebrating our healthy milestones of becoming and maintaining a status of “undetectable and untransmittable.”

  • SELFIE: Take a selfie
  • SIGN: Use a sign like the one above (click here for templates to use)
  • HASHTAGS: Include the hashtags #CelebrateUU, #UU6, #UequalsU (replacing the 6 with how many years you’ve been undetectable!)
  • STORY: Answer the question “What would it mean to me to end the HIV epidemic?
  • SHARE: Share and tag us @CelebrateUU on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

We will get through this together.

When the dust clears and we are able to safely get back into the studio, I’ll gladly come back to anyone who would like to come in for a portrait that will be stylized and posted to our website!

Be safe, and remember to wash your hands!